Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I am so embarrassed about this week's food waste. This week really got away from me. At the beginning of the week, I had 13 credit hours to complete for my continuing education requirement to keep my physical therapy be done by today. I recommend that if you have to do continuing education for a license you have, do NOT wait until the week before it needs to be done. This is the first year I've really had to worry about it because last year I had just completed my Doctorate and the two years before I went to a course that surpassed the number of hours I needed. Anyway, I digress...I could make excuses until the cows come home. My continuing ed IS completed, by the way.

So, on the left is my failed experiment at making yogurt. It just didn't set. I don't know what I did wrong. I'm going to give it another go, but I was really bummed. I had one more jar in addition to what you see here, but I tried to strain it to make it thicker. It tasted like yogurt...creamy with a little tang, but it was the consistency of cream, not yogurt. On the right is a container of black beans. I'm still getting used to figuring out how much dried beans expand when you cook them. I made a TON the last time I prepped beans. I thought I'd figure out ways to use them up before they went bad, but I just didn't have the time with everything else going on. What you don't see here is the equivalent of about 4 apples I had to get rid of because they went soft before I could make them into applesauce. Did I mention I had a bad week?

If you're curious about others' food waste, check out Frugal Girl. I estimate I wasted about $8.50...most of that coming from my failed yogurt. Sigh.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's the start of another week! Geez, they go by so fast!!! This is what is what our menu plan looks like this week:

Monday - Chicken quesadillas (I think if you look at my menu plans for the last few weeks, this has been on there, but I haven't actually made it for about a month. I have everything I need, so that's dinner tonight.)
Tuesday - Veggie curry
Wednesday - Black bean burgers
Thursday - Leftover curry
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Egg sandwiches
Sunday - Pasta carbonara or falafel (haven't decided which)

Breakfasts will be cereal, bagels, and pumpkin muffins
Lunches will be leftovers, PB&J, and smoothies

To see many more menu plans, visit

Friday, April 23, 2010

Homemade sunflower butter

As I have mentioned before, my daughter has a slew of food sensitivities. One of the things she actually can eat is sunflower seed butter. Have you read the ingredients on a jar of this nut butter recently? It is either sweetened with evaporated cane juice (not bad) or organic sugar. Organic or not, sugar is sugar and not something you want to be feeding your body. J has been fighting this cold for weeks and I am convinced that the added sugar she is consuming is the culprit (sugar is known to suppress the immune system). While I don't want to take away one of the few foods that she can actually eat, I also don't want her to be consuming added sugar. So, like many times before, I decided to make my own.

I went to Whole Foods and purchased organic hulled sunflower seeds. FYI, they were $2.39/lb...a jar of organic sunflower butter averages around $6/jar. I covered the bottom of a small cookie sheet with a single layer of sunflower seed kernels tossed with a drizzle of olive oil. I put the sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, stirring them halfway through, until they just started to brown. Salt and let them cool for 10-15 minutes. Dump the kernels in a food processor, add about a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Puree until the oils start to release from the kernels, approximately another 10 minutes. If the butter looks too crumbly, add another drizzle of olive oil. This is what my finished product looked like:

It was inexpensive (less than the manufactured kind), no added sugar, and it passed the Jana taste test. Yet another experiment I can call a success!

Food Waste Friday

Another partial container of ricotta...ugh! I really only use this for one recipe. I need to find multiple uses for it so I don't keep dumping it down the drain. This wasn't too bad though! I am hoping for no waste next week! To check out how others did, or to participate in Food Waste Friday, head over to Frugal Girl.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pumpkin muffins

It seems that a few of the blogs I follow and I are on the same wavelength. I had thought of making pumpkin muffins at the same time Frugal Girl and Money Saving Mom posted their recipes. It is not the time of year for fresh pumpkins, but I had a can of pumpkin (gasp! I know, canned goods are not great, but I bought this forever ago with the idea of having J try some pumpkin. If I gave J only foods in season, she wouldn't eat anything right now, but I digress...) in my pantry to use. I wanted to see if maybe, since J can eat sweet potatoes and squashes, she would be able to eat pumpkin. I am trying to increase the number of foods she can eat, but haven't had much luck.

So, anyway, I was on the search for a pumpkin muffin recipe. Muffins are portable and it's something J can carry around the house eating with minimal mess. I also wanted a different option for breakfast besides bagels with sunflower butter because the sunflower butter has added sugar...something I'm sure isn't helping J's cold to go away. I'm trying to phase out the sunbutter and make my own. Until then, these pumpkin muffins saved the day! Here is the original recipe from


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture; blend well. Fold in raisins and walnuts. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.
As you can see, this recipe is not exactly "clean." This is my version, which also was made J-friendly since she was the primary reason I was making these.
  • 3/4 cup of a combination of honey and maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 farm fresh eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1/3 (or so) cup water
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 3/4 - 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
If I was making these just for myself, I would use Sucanat in place of the sugar, try to up the Omega-3's with some flax seeds, and increase the protein with some wheat germ. Since I know Sucanat doesn't agree with J and I haven't tried the others with her, this was a safe attempt for round #1. She had some yesterday with no stomach upset...hooray! In the fall, I'll look forward to using some fresh sugar pumpkin. Let me know if you give this recipe a try!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu plan Monday

I gotta be honest, I am still trying to figure out my menu plan. I have ingredients for many recipes, but I need to have something super easy (preferably slow cooker easy) for Tuesday and Thursday nights. Leftovers are an option, but tomorrow there are no leftovers to eat. So, I'm stuck! I love trying new recipes, but hate taking the time to search for them. Anyone have any good suggestions for a crockpot meal for tomorrow? I have chicken, ground beef, and beans to work with. This is what the rest of the week will look like:

Monday - Either at our friend's house or homemade pizza (J is still trying to kick her cold, so I'm not sure going to someone else's house is a great idea)
Tuesday - Something in the slow cooker
Wednesday - Chicken quesadillas (I think I have put these on the menu for a couple of weeks, but haven't actually made them :))
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Pizza (if we don't have it tonight...if we do, well...I'll have to think of something else)
Saturday - Lentil soup
Sunday - Falafel (I think I'm going to try this recipe...the last time I made falafel, it was a flop)

Want some more menu ideas? Visit

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hummus imposter

The other day, I had a TON of chickpeas to use up. I wanted to make hummus, but didn't want to shell out the $6 for the container of tahini. I knew it would end up saving me money in the long run over buying the manufactured stuff, not to mention being better for me. I still couldn't bring myself to pay that much for the tahini. There was a recipe for "hummus" on my container of cumin. I don't think hummus is really hummus without tahini (or, at least it doesn't seem so to me), but I figured I'd try it because I had so many chickpeas just waiting to be made into something. Instead of hummus, it made more like a bean spread. However, it was tasty! I thought I would share the recipe with you all because it is yummy, inexpensive to make, and healthy! All the things I love! :) So, here is the super fast and simple recipe:

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, reserving 1/4 cup liquid (I didn't have a can, I had purchased dried beans. I read somewhere that 1 can of chickpeas equals 1 1/2 cups and I used 1/4 cup of liquid from when I boiled them. Seemed to work.)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth, adding reserved liquid until reaching desired consistency.

That's it! So easy! I omitted the lemon juice because I didn't have any and added about a tsp of olive oil to make it a little creamier. I also added a little more salt and cumin. I have been enjoying it spread on a piece of whole wheat bread with spinach and red pepper. Yum!!!

Food Waste Friday

This week we wasted a partial container of whipped topping. I don't feel too bad about this because it's not good for us anyway. I bought it for a specific dessert I made for Valentine's Day (I do allow treats on special occasions...). Sadly, it took this long for the container to start molding. Thinking back on it, I should have made a lower fat version of real whipped cream rather than buying this artificial crap. Oh well...hindsight is 20/20. Other than this container of whipped cream, we wasted a freezer bag full of pureed papaya with freezer burn. I had made it for J, but it didn't agree with her tummy (what a surprise). I don't like it because it sort of tastes like soap. So, it was wasted...bummer. To see other pics of moldy food, head over to Frugal Girl.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu plan Monday

So, this week I start a new job. This means that I work 2-7 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I also work Saturday mornings, but that doesn't effect my cooking dinner. I have to plan a super easy meal for those nights because I certainly don't want to just be starting dinner at 7:30. This is what I've come up with for the week:

Monday - Birthday dinner out
Tuesday - Leftover crockpot beef with balsamic onions
Wednesday - Chicken quesadillas
Thursday - Vegetable curry (nope, still haven't made this meal)
Friday - Possibly another dinner out before going to a concert with friends
Saturday - Leftover veggie curry
Sunday - Grilled hamburgers with homemade rolls

To see more menu plans, check out

***I tried to post this yesterday (a number of times), but blogger wouldn't let me. So, I had to wait until this morning.***

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bananas for ice cream!

I love ice cream. Seriously...I could eat it probably two to three times a day, 365 days of the year and never get sick of it. Problem is, it's usually full of stuff that's no good for you and that's before you get to that "sugar" ingredient on the list. So, I found a cheap and natural alternative: bananas. Yep, bananas. If you don't like the taste of bananas, I hate to say that you're out of luck, but I haven't found anything that quite works the same in truly simulating ice cream like frozen bananas do. I am able to fool myself into thinking I'm getting that delicious ice cream without getting the refined sugar and other garbage that traditional ice cream usually contains.

So, here's what you do if you are an ice cream-aholic like me. Take 3 fairly ripe bananas (some brown spots appearing) and put them in the freezer. To save yourself some work later, you can peel them before you put them in the freezer and place them in a freezer bag. Freeze thoroughly. Now, you're going to take them out of the freezer and let them thaw until the bananas give a little (aka smushes slightly) when you press them with your fingers. Do you have to freeze totally and then thaw? Unfortunately, I have found that it just doesn't work the same if you don't. Sorry.

Anyway, take your partially thawed bananas and put them in a food processor along with about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (certainly you can use more or less to your taste) and a splash of rice milk. I am sure you can use other kinds of milk, but I've only used rice. I can't attest to how others work. Puree the mixture until you no longer see hunks of banana swirling around the bowl. Scoop it out and enjoy! Three bananas makes about 4 1/2 cup servings. If you have some leftover (if you're not sharing with others), then freeze the rest. When you want to use it again, it will be frozen solid, but thawing it in the microwave for 45 seconds at 60% power seems to work beautifully. Obviously the next time you eat it, you won't have to thaw for so long.

This might take some practice to get the right consistency, but it's really yummy and seems like ice cream. I like to fool myself. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Wow...where in the world has the last week gone? I am in the middle of changing jobs, so tying up loose ends last week and then the holiday weekend has made the last 10 days or so fly by! Better late than never with my menu plan. :) Here it is for the next week:

Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Chicken chili with cornbread
Wednesday - Leftovers from Tuesday
Thursday - Slow cooker beef roast with balsamic onions (thanks $5 dinners!)
Friday - Bison and bean burritos
Saturday - French dip sandwiches
Sunday - Lentil soup

To get more menu ideas, head to