Saturday, May 25, 2013

Eat Yer Porridge!

Good morning! 

I have a lot to say but not the energy or time to say it. I will save the more verbose post in me for another day, but let me just break the fast with you! 

Oats are an incredible power food. 

Not only are oats a great fibre source, they work on many fronts to make us healthier. Their phytonutrients help prevent cancer, they lower blood pressure and improve bowel function, they are fantastic for heart health and cholesterol, they spread out your insulin response and regulate blood sugar, and they can favourably alter metabolism and aid in weight loss as well as athletic performance! With a reputation like that, why wouldn't you bring oats on side as a regular part of your diet?

Don't just take my word for it. There's a ton of research out there, just waiting for you to read. Here's a good place to start. And this article in the Epoch Times talks about even more pros for oat consumption... even the benefits of oat straw tea! (Who knew?!) They say  "Research carried out in Australia showed that athletes who were fed on an oat-based diet over a three-week period showed a 4 percent increase in stamina, according to The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. This is in part due to the fact that oat-seed is endowed with good amounts of vitamins B and E and a rich supply of minerals including iron, potassium, and calcium. This combination both tones and stimulates muscles as well as the nerve supply to those muscles....If it takes you days to recover after a physically exhausting training session, then a cup of oat-straw tea may be just what you need. I would also add growing children to this group as they are especially in need of protein for building body tissue and vitamin E for optimum cell division, all found abundantly in oats."

I haven't tried oat-staw tea, but they say to use 2 teaspoons oat straw to 8 oz water. I'll give it a go!

I've been making an effort to eat oats more regularly. I grew up with the traditional brown sugar and milk as a topping, but in recent years have eschewed that in favour of healthier options. Fruit, nuts, or a savoury soft basted egg with salt and pepper all make great additions to oats. 

This morning's oats were a treat! As soon as I took them from the heat I stirred in chopped strawberries an a big handful of blueberries. I topped it all off with a splash of almond milk an a drizzle of real maple syrup. Decadent! A great way to start a Saturday. 

Here's an inspired (if a little insane!) blog dedicated entirely to... you guessed it... oats! Check out for inspiration and recipes to take your daily dose of oats from meh to MMMMMmmm.

What's your favourite way to dress up your oats?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Warm Weather Wonder

Leaves! Green leaves!
How's the weather in your neck of the woods? It has been gorgeous here, and I am so thankful! 

I thought I would share a couple of photos and recipes before heading back out to my garden.

We have definitely taken advantage of the lovely weather here. We've been getting the garden ready for planting, I raked up the lawn to let the new grass spring up, and we are all excited about greeting the new baby animals that always show up at this time of year. 

There are calves and chicks on the family farm, and last Saturday we went to a friend's place and enjoyed their sweet little week-old goats.
Baby goats are cuddly. =)

More baby goat snuggles.

A friendly fellow hangs about.
Nature Walk view. The world waits for new life!
We're also getting close to wrapping up much of our formal book-work for the school year. Over the past couple of weeks we have been taking Nature Walks (really just taking lovely long walks and observing the glory of creation), sketching what we find. We're also taking bookwork out to the picnic table, which makes everyone more cheerful about sticking with the required math etc... remember those days of gazing longingly out the classroom window? When I see that happening, we just go outside with the books. You still have to finish what's asked, but at least you can do it in the sunshine.

One of the myriad things I love about warm weather is the opportunity to indulge in some cool treats, and cook meals that excite my senses with their fresh flavour and spring-inspired ingredients. Of course, we do grill year round, but grilling in weather you can enjoy standing out in just sweetens the experience. I've been making salads and sandwiches for most of our lunches, so that we can take them right outside to eat. 

Here are a couple of recently-enjoyed recipes to inspire you!

Coconut Milk Ice "Cream"

This is non-dairy, creamy and tasty, and not too sweet. 

2 large whole eggs or 4 yolks
1/2 c (or less) maple syrup or honey
2 cans full fat coconut milk

Whisk the eggs for a couple of minutes, until light and fluffy. Whisk in the maple syrup or honey until well blended. Pour in coconut milk and whisk some more to blend well. 

Freeze according to ice cream machine instructions or place in a shallow dish in the freezer for several hours, stirring once an hour until frozen. (The hand-stirring method doesn't require an ice cream maker but may create an icier texture.)

Store in an airtight container in the freezer - shallow, wide containers are easiest to scoop from. Serve any way you wish! We love fresh or frozen/thawed berries stirred in.

Summery Shrimp Salad

When the tempertures rise, two things happen! We don't want to cook indoors and heat up the house, and we want to eat cool and crunchy foods. This salad is awesome served on a bed of greens, by itself, or on rolls as a perfect picnic sandwich filling. Try adding celery, avocado, and cucumbers, too! Serves 4 as a main course - I double it. 

1lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped and cooked
3/4 c fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears), raw or lightly blanched
1/4 c mayonnaise or veganaise
1/4 c basil pesto
2 T fresh lemon juice or more to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper and any other seasoning you desire

Stir together the mayo, pesto and lemon juice with salt and pepper. Toss into all the other ingredients and chill until ready to serve. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Hearty Soup to Share

The weather is still not sure what season we are in, so I've been combining winter and spring in my cooking - more easy-to-digest soups and stews, along with the brighter leafy flavours that move into gardening season. 

We had a 5 day break in the winter weather that gave us great hope of spring. We went for long walks in the back 40, and now that Jim has a Fitbit too, we were in mini-competition mode to see who could log the most steps. It's easy to do when you WANT to be outside, walking. 

We sat at the picnic table, soaking up the warmth and sunshine while the kids jumped on the trampoline. It was so lovely. 

And then it snowed again. Lots. And while that new snow has melted, the weather is still feeling pretty dreary, outlook rather bleak. The forecast is hopeful, as am I...

More on that another time. I just wanted to share: 

I love this soup. 

The funny thing is, I don't love lentils. I can go either way with spinach, but usually, I pretty much love it. I love lemon, I love garlic... and somehow, I just adore this soup. It is filling, only 3 WW Points per 1c serving, and it is packed with energy and nutrition.

Mama's Lentil Spinach Soup with Lemon

Makes about 5 1c servings (I often double it)
Cooking time - 10 mintues prep and an hour to simmer

2 medium onions, slivered (top to bottom rather than in rings)
1 clove garlic (or 3, whatever you like)
1 tsp olive oil
3 c water
8 oz (1 c) dry green or red lentils (green will give you distinct texture, and red will be mushy - I like both)
1 tsp salt
10 oz chopped spinach (you can use frozen or fresh)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice or more to taste

Heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until tender. Add water, lentils and salt. Cover and simmer for one hour. Stir in spinach, lemon zest and juice. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes or until spinach is tender. 

Serve on its own or with a chunk of crusty bread. It's just right.