Planting seeds of health and happiness

Food Preparation

Simple Home Meals

September 16th, 2015 / admin / 0 comments

The secret to making healthy eating easy is to keep cooking simple. Keep it simple by not worrying about perfection and embracing the ease of the one pot meal! Don’t worry about following recipes to the T. What do you have that is fresh from the farmers market? It’s more about what is fresh and what do I have than what the recipe dictates.

Learn more by watching my video here:

Be well!

Share with me your thoughts and comments on how you are making healthy meals for your family by embracing simplicity in your cooking!

My Kale Brings the Kitchen to the Yard!

September 15th, 2015 / admin / 0 comments

Make Kale Taboule!

So I now have a series of videos to share with you. In this, my first, I show how to make kale taboule…right next to the soil in which it was grown! Yep, I brought the kitchen out into the yard — what better way to savor the freshness of the kale, and my beautiful summer garden.

Watch the video and learn how to make kale taboule! Share with me how yours tastes.

To your health!

Be well,

Susan

Veggies

Easy Meals at Home

February 5th, 2015 / admin / 0 comments

Would it surprise you to learn that having more meals at home doesn’t require a bunch of cookbooks and culinary expertise? Serving your family homemade meals can be as easy as 1-2-3! You really just need three main components to make a quick meal that satisfies and is healthy.

Protein- Whether you like tofu, chicken, beef or fish you should consider local and free range / wild caught. Remember, not every meal must have meat! If you prefer meals that are meat free there are lots of vegetable, bean, grain options that can pack a mean protein punch!

Veggies- Steam, bake, or sauté – even eat them raw anytime (veggies are not just for salad). Studies have shown that meals taste better when they are also appealing to the eye so get a bunch of beautiful lush greens, tomatoes, carrots or whatever you like and put a rainbow on your plate!

Grain - Quinoa, brown rice, whole grain toast to name a few options – the possibilities of what you can serve with your protein and veggies are endless, and it is so easy to cook a huge pot at one time and break out into daily servings.

Once you have the components in your mind you can mix it up and use different spices to make any dish go from bland to delicious!

Here are three meal options that are a breeze to make even if you only have 30 minutes:

  • Make a yummy blend of fresh rosemary, oregano, and sea salt. Sprinkle on veggies or meat before grilling or baking in the oven (you can use water rather than olive oil too!) Once it’s all cooked, serve it over a bed of fresh lettuce or chard…add cherry tomatoes or purple cabbage for color! Use olive oil and balsamic vinegar as your dressing. Consider using hummus as a dressing as well. Yum!
  • Grab your cracked pepper and sea salt – season up some flank steak. Then, sauté it with onions, green peppers, garlic, and maybe some kale too! Serve in a whole grain pita for a quick and easy handheld meal.
  • Get fishy with it! Simply salt and pepper, and use lemon slices on your fish of choice. While it bakes in the oven, pull out your cooked brown rice and a touch of water and put your chopped veggies on top (steam for 10 minutes). Boom! Dinner is ready!

Now, I want to hear from you!

What are your favorite quick and healthy meals? Leave me a comment below and tell me about it! What do you love to cook, eat and ENJOY?

fetatart

Feeding Your Family Nutritious Meals on a Tight Budget

November 30th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

Feeding Your Family Nutritious Meals on a Tight Budget

There really isn’t much to debate about anymore when it comes to the value of eating seasonal, organic foods. With recent studies showing that organic produce is richer in antioxidants and far lower in metals like cadmium, a return to good, old-fashioned cooking, based on delicious local produce, is the order of the day. Don’t believe the hype that healthy food is more expensive. You don’t have to shop at fancy stores to get the best out of local produce. There are many ways to feed your family the best food at a fair price; these are just a few suggestions:

* Grow your own food:

Susan Huff has spent a lifetime showing that homes and schools make excellent settings for a personal garden, where you can grow all the foods you love–ripe, plump tomatoes, crunchy kale, fleshy pumpkins and more. Don’t be discouraged if your backyard isn’t huge or you live in an apartment with no garden. Even a six-foot space on your terrace can host a small garden where you can grow herbs like basil, cilantro or rosemary effortlessly and even a tomato vine or two! The idea is to lose your fear of farming and to create edible spaces within your home; the fact that everything you grow will be 100% pesticide-free, low cost and ultra delicious, is certainly food for thought. If you don’t have your own terrace, use your kitchen or any free room in the house to grow your own sprouts! Did you know that sprouting seeds, pulses or grains causes their vitamin content to soar? Sprouts are also gentle on the digestive system, since they are, in effect ‘pre-digested’. Finally, they are rich in chlorophyll, which aids the body in the production of hemoglobin, which is crucial for the metabolism of cell energy.

*Plan ahead: One of the most common ways to spend more money than you need to is by buying without making a list. Rather than aimlessly shopping and sticking items in your shopping cart that simply look appealing at the moment, take the time to plan out your weekly menu and shop for only as many ingredients as you need to make your programmed dishes.

* Make time for home cooking: A lack of time is without a doubt the most common excuse for parents to avoid cooking for the family on a daily basis, yet top chefs like Jamie Oliver have shown that it is possible to whip up a healthy and super delicious meal in as little as 15 minutes. Cooking at home means you are not spending more than you need to on pre-packaged or pre-cooked foods (which are generally lacking in flavor and high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar). Pre-cooked meals also come in much smaller portions than you can whip up at home for the same price or less and nothing beats the flavor of fresh, crisp, seasonal fruits and vegetables which are consumed when they are in their optimal state. Home food preparation will also enable you to dabble in recipes from other cultures, thereby opening the doors to the world of gastronomy to even the youngest members of your family.

* Bulk buy when you can: Fruits and vegetables should be consumed as fresh as possible; always try to source them from local farmers to ensure they haven’t chalked up too many food miles. However, other food items (especially spices and canned goods) can be bought in advance and stored for various months. Check out the deals offered by your local supermarkets and speak to friends about sharing bulk purchases, to lessen the pressure to consume everything before the expiry date.

* Don’t center every meal around meat or fish: Some of the cheapest meals to whip up for your family are vegetarian: think baked spuds, a vegetarian couscous with roast vegetables or homemade veggie burgers. These are all delicious dishes kids and adults alike will love, for a fraction of the price of meat or fish. As long as you are getting your required quotient of iron, Omega-3 fatty acids etc., feel free to try a few vegetarian and vegan recipes. Start off with raw vegan desserts; they are surprisingly easy to make and super delicious: think a creamy raw cacao pudding, rich chocolate cake or sweet yet refined sugar-free raw apple pie. All of these need to be savored to be believed. They truly are as good, if not better, than their baked counterparts.

These are just a few ideas for eating right on a budget; surely you can think up many of your own ways to eat for less: whether that means visiting local farmer’s markets, planning family meals in line with the season, purchasing more cheap yet incredibly nutritious superfoods or joining a local co-op. What will your way be?

 

Freelance Article by Helen Gorner

Freeze, Thaw, Heat!

April 23rd, 2014 / Susan Huff / 0 comments

Getting the Most from Seasonal Food for Longer.

Freezing is a wonderful way to enjoy seasonal produce throughout the year, and, with a little upfront work, it makes it easy to grab healthy options to thaw and heat when in a hurry!  Just give yourself a few minutes to heat slowly so as to maintain the nutritional integrity of your delicious frozen homemade meal.

Here are a few timescale tips on refrigeration, freezing, thawing and heating your favorite foods!

REFRIGERATION

  • If not frozen, soups and entrees can be kept 7 –10 days in a refrigerator
  • Cookies and muffins can be kept in a refrigerator for 2 weeks.
  • Salads last 4 – 8 days in the refrigerator depending on how cool your keep your refrigerator

FREEZING

  • Soups, entrees, cookies, and muffins can be frozen for 1 year.
  • Dips and sides can be frozen up to 2 years (got to love garlic and lemon!).
  • When freezing with mason jars, avoid cracking by using straight-sided jars, and filling only as far as the fill-line below the lid twists.

GENERAL THAWING AND HEATING INSTRUCTIONS

Soups

  • Place frozen soups in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours until thawed.
  • Or, to thaw faster, put soup in a bowl of water in your sink.
  • Once thawed, place contents in a stainless steel saucepan, and heat slowly.
  • To preserve nutrients, opt for slow stovetop heating over the speedy high-heat of the microwave.
  • Entrees can be thawed in the refrigerator 2-10 hours prior to warming.
  • If thawed first, heat the entrée in a conventional oven, preheated at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or in a toaster oven for 20–30 minutes based on the size and wattage of your toaster oven (convection is best).
  • If placed in the oven fully frozen, please allow at least an additional 10 –15 minutes.

Entrees

COOKIES, MUFFINS, DIPS & SIDES

  • Cookies, muffins, dips and sides can be thawed in the refrigerator – takes 4-5 hours.
  • Warm to taste.
PLEASE REMEMBER

 

ALL PROVIDED CONTAINERS (TOPS AND BOTTOMS) ARE RECYCLABLE!

If you aren’t able to recycle, please return the containers to The Soulful Seed, so that we can!

Pantry

Pantry Staples!

March 31st, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

Here you go: a list of pantry staples that will make it easier to cook regularly — and by instinct rather than depending solely on recipes.

Of course, this list could change dramatically – depending on the cuisines that influence your cooking, and logistical things, like how much space you have! Take this list, like all advice, with a grain of salt, and leave suggestions for pantry basics I’ve left out! Art, flavor, food: they are all one! Enjoy!!

  • Good Sea Salt
    Maldon Sea Salt is a nice flakey salt that many chefs prefer for finishing. It costs about $7 for a box that will last you a long time. It makes a noticeable difference if you salt your food with it. Trust me. For salting while you cook, a $2 box of coarse kosher will work.
  • Black Peppercorns and a Good Peppermill
    You can buy peppercorns in a container that also grinds them, but usually this is a big waste of plastic since you cannot refill the container. There are a range of peppermills to choose from.
  • Good Quality Olive Oil
    My rule of thumb is to get the best you can afford, and don’t buy more than you can use in a few months because it will go rancid. I love Eden and Costco brands.
  • Chicken (or Vegetable) Stock
    Have a few cartons of stock around for risottos, simmering vegetables, and just giving extra flavor to your stove-top and oven-prepared dishes. Shelf-stable, packaged stock (or broth) comes in 32oz (4 cup) cartons, and handy 8oz (1 cup) containers. I prefer to make my own and freeze!
  • Dried Pasta
    Perhaps the most obvious pantry staple. If you have several shapes, you’ll be halfway to dinner. I keep one long, like spaghetti and several shaped pastas. Everyone loves pasta!
  • Dried Spices
    Pick your favorite 5! Curry, Celery Seed, Old Bay, Vogel mix, and Cumin are mine — I cook mostly vegetarian.
  • Vinegar of Several Varieties
    Don’t get lost here. Start with balsamic, then try white wine vinegar. If you cook with Asian-influenced flavors, a bottle of rice wine vinegar will help.
  • Canned Whole Plum Tomatoes
    If you have room, keep several large cans on hand. Many meals for me start by dumping one into a pot and then adding whatever else I have around. Stews, braises, pasta sauces, bruschetta purees. It’s pretty much endless. Yet fresh tomatoes or sundried are my ULTIMATE favs!!!
  • Rice
    With brown and black rice in my kitchen, I always feel like I can pull something together. Those are my preferences – one for health reasons, the other for taste and texture. There are many varieties of rice: choose at least two.
  • Dried Mushrooms
    Dried porcini mushrooms pack the most punch, but buy what you can afford. FungusAmongUs.com offers a pound of bulk organic dried porcini for $25, which may sound expensive, but that is a lot of dried mushrooms, and they keep well in a sealed container (I use a canning jar.) Trader Joe’s shoppers can buy an inexpensive bag of dried wild mushrooms ($1.99 for an ounce, enough to get you through a couple of meals so buy a few packets), a mix of porcini, shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms.
  • Capers
    Either packed in brine, or salt, capers are an essential ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes from Pasta Puttanesca to Salad Niçoise. They instantly add a tang and pungency to chicken, fish and pasta. Try pairing them with lemony flavors. Olives as well!
  • Anchovies
    Cured fillets, packed either in olive oil or salt (which have a longer shelf life), add depth to salad dressings, pasta sauces. Just one or two mashed up fillets can be that “magic ingredient” you’re looking for when something just isn’t tasty enough.
  • Dried Red Pepper Flakes
    When you want a little spice in any dish, a pinch of red pepper flakes added during the cooking process will go a long way. Cayenne works too!
  • Dijon Mustard
    Slather it on roasts, add to salad dressings, plop a dollop of it on your cheeseboard. MUSTARD in general!! Love it on fish!
  • Nut Oil
    A small bottle of walnut or hazelnut oil will go a long way as a base for salad dressings, or a quick finishing drizzle on finished pasta dishes, meats, or cooked vegetables.
  • Nuts
    If you keep one kind of nut around, the pine nut gets my vote. Then, second, sliced almonds. They turn in a few months, so really use them if you have them, or keep unused nuts in the freezer. Toasted in the oven or in a skillet, they’re great in salads, in rice dishes and smashed up as crusts for meat and fish.
  • Lentils
    A quick legume that makes a nice warm side-dish, or a fresh, cool salad. The tiny green French variety is my favorite. Yellow lentils are common in Indian cooking.
  • Quinoa
    Cooks quickly and is delicious warm or cool. Takes to cooked vegetables, or finely chopped fresh vegetables.
  • Almond Butter and Coconut Milk
    I know they are not in the same category but if I am out of these, I am out of food – I LOVE them both!

Eat Well, Be well, Stock well! BE PREPARED!

Veggies

Make-Ahead Meals

March 14th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

I mix up my menus from week to week, but I do like to keep some staples in rotation. Here’s a look at the five things that keep me healthy and ready for the week!

1. Soup

With the lingering winter weather, this has been the perfect comfort food. This week I made a white bean soup with plenty of kale and brown rice. These are my favorite types of soups — the ones that feel hearty, filling and satisfying. A huge pot of soup is the gift that keeps on giving. I was able to get several meals out of this one pot. It could have even fed me for the occasional breakfast in addition to my dinners!

2. Roasted Veggies

This week I roasted up a couple of sweet potatoes, but you can roast any veggie that you like. I’ve been known to roast Brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli and cauliflower. The fact that it’s already cooked and prepped makes it easy to grab and go or add to a bed of greens for a more filling salad. This week I found myself smashing up sweet potatoes and topping them with almond butter. YUMMERS.

3. A Giant Salad

I like to take the biggest mixing bowl I have that comes with a lid and fill it to the gills with prepped greens. I prefer non-delicate greens such as kale, shredded Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage—if not a combination of all three. I also make a Buddha bowl with all the greens I have, and Hummus in a separate container. The heartier cruciferous greens are friendly to the taste buds when they come to adding dressing. I keep my carrots, radish, celery etc. chopped and ready in a huge bowl of water – perfect and crisp anytime for munching. Spinach and romaine work great…just keep them apart from the purple cabbage until it is time to serve – OOOH!

4. Protein

This week it was baked chicken. I knew I could easily chop it up and serve it over the salad or pair it with the sweet potatoes for a super easy meal. I’ve also turned on my slow cooker on a Sunday and let a piece of organic beef, or even a whole cut-up chicken in water with veggies, take its time to really deliver its flavors. It really depends on what you’re in the mood for and what you have on hand. Hard boiled eggs are another super easy protein to prep ahead of time. Almonds travel so well in the car or on the plane!

5. Quinoa

I’m a sucker for this grain (technically it is a seed). I add it to salads, put a little bit in some soup or throw some chicken on it for a quick lunch. I made one and a half cups and we had more than enough to dip into it at breakfast and dinner time.  I make two to three pots of rice or grain a week and keep them in the fridge!

That’s what my week looked like! Grab the ingredients you like, add in a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, and you’ve got an instant lunch.

Do you plan ahead for the week? I would love to hear your favorites.  Plan ahead — it is PLENTY of fun!!

 

who says you need good china

Create Your Own Buddha Bowl

March 7th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

 

1. Find a unique, large sized bowl which you can become accustomed to as a symbol of nourishment and gratitude, and enjoyment!!! For me, the bigger the bowl, the better.

2. First, use an abundance of raw organic greens to fill the majority of the bowl. My favorites are kale, arugula and spinach — which are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

3. Next, add in as many raw or steamed veggies as you like or have available. I also add leftover cooked rice or grains. Mixing textures and variations in taste can be an enjoyable and relaxing creative process: crunchy, sweet, bitter, juicy … Add nuts, raisins, seeds, and herbs!!!

4. Now it’s time for protein — I usually choose beans like garbanzo, black or kidney, possibly hummus for pizzazz. Other delicious proteins could be almonds, pumpkin seeds or ultra-nutritious chia seeds.

Dressing YOUR Buddha Bowl:

This final touch is the best part and can be as varied as a flower arrangement. Drizzle your favorite olive oil (I love loads of organic Braggs olive oil) and vinegar, or splash tamari and lemon juice, add finely chopped garlic, scallions, mild or hot peppers, sprinkle sea salt, nutritional yeast, or cayenne. Discover what feels nourishing to your body, concentrate on tingling your taste buds! And of course, remember to enjoy with gratitude!  Now chew with love!!

baba ganoush

Baba Ganoush

January 22nd, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

Baba Ganoush recipe coming soon!

seeds

How to Toast Spices

January 9th, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

Learning how to toast spices will not only add flavor to your food and cooking, but may also inspire some fantastic and memorable sweet and savory food gifts. Best of all? It’s incredibly easy. Here’s a primer on how to do it just right.

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