Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

Just a quick note to let you guys know I posted the recipe for the Cilantro Black Bean Burgers. I'm still working on setting up the recipe tab the way I want it to be, but if you just click recipes the burger recipe is right there. I encourage you to try it and let me know what you think. The measurements I put are pretty exact but feel free to make substitutions or put more or less of certain ingredients. Experiment, have fun.

Please check back soon as I have some super yummy foods recently that I can't wait to tell ya'll about. Blueberry muffins  or Fudge Babies anyone?

Also, I still trying to decide if I should switch over to wordpress or stay with blogger. Wordpress users feel free to let me know your likes/dislikes with wordpress. I'm also still pondering what I want to rename my blog (even if I stay with blogger I am going to change the name).

Thanks for reading,
Ann Claire

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Home is Where the Healthy Food is

I"m back! So what's the reasoning for this long blogging absence anyway? Well I've been out of town for the past week and a half. The first few days spent at my grandmothers and the rest at the lake, neither of which provided computer access. Sure, I could have blogged more from my phone. Why didn't I you ask?
Well, who wants to spend time staring at a screen when they could be swimming, kayaking, skiing, wake boarding, fishing, jet skiing, boating, or even watching the sunset over the water..............

I've enjoyed many wonderful dishes since my last food post.

Some yummy fish and veggies topped with mango salsa, with coleslaw and new potatoes on the side.

or how about the delicious cilantro black bean burgers I mentioned in my last post?

                                                                  Prior to cooking.

Post cooking, topped with tomatilla-avocado salsa and diced tomatoes. Squash and strawberries completed the meal. (I promise I eat tons of fruits and veggies besides squash and strawberries, not sure why this is their second blog appearance on the same plate. For normality sake, I left them separate this time :)). I actually enjoyed the black bean burgers and tomatillo salsa multiple times while gone, it was that good. Never fear, I will be posting the recipe for both very soon. If you want it sooner, feel free to email me and ask.

Though I had lots of fun while out of town, I'm glad to be back. It's so much easier to prepare delicious, healthy food at home with my own ingredients, kitchen, ect. After all home is where the healthy food is, right? ( wait, is that not how the saying goes?)

Question of the Day: What is your favorite healthy on the go snack?

Thanks for reading,

Ann Claire

P.S. My apologies for the low quality cell phone pics in this post. I forgot to back my camera.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Apology to My Dear Old Friends the Carbohydrates.

Okay first I just want to clarify something from my last post. I mentioned how during the retreat I was on they served an excessive amount of carbs (bread, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and I think cake too -all in one meal). I do NOT think carbs are bad. In fact, I think they can and should be part of a delicious and nutritious diet. I know I couldn't live without pasta! What I didn't like about the carbs served on the retreat was they were all super refined and processed. I have no problems with carbs in general. Bring on the complex, whole grain carbs please!

I know I have been really bad about posting lately. My computer access has been quite limited (I'm currently on my phone). I did make some delicious cilantro black bean burgers recently that I can't wait to share with you. I've always been drinking an ton of green tea recently. I know it has many supposed health benefits but I really just drink it because I love the taste!
I'm also considering switching over to wordpress. If I do I want a new name. Ann Claire's Healthy Adventures is a bit of a mouthful. Name suggestions are encouraged!

Thanks for reading,

Ann Claire

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Hits and a Miss

I apoligize for the lack of updates in the past week. Much of it is due to the fact that I spent Thursday through Sunday on an ACTS retreat. Fantistic experience, but the food there really gave me new appreciation for the way I eat. While I did my best to make healthy choices out of the food that was offered, I certainly didn't stay clean all weekend. Rather than seeing this as a set back, it has just revitalized me to want to eat even healthier now.
At first I was thinking, "Seriously? Who eats like that?" when seeing the food they were serving. I mean mashed potatoes, bread and macaroni and cheese all in one meal??? Carbohydrates anyone? Then I realized that most people woud find the food they were serving there a lot more normal than what I eat on a daily basis. If the average person were to be served what I eat on a typical day, they would probably think it was completely weird.

Take for example what I ate as an afternoon snack about an hour ago: Sauted Yellow Squash and Strawberries. I began by sauting the squash with some olive oil, a whole shallot, red pepper flakes, and herbes de provence (love that stuff!). When the squash was al dente, I plated it. Before consuming it a container of strawberries on a nearby counter caught my eye. Thinking the sweetness and softness of the berries might be a nice contrast, I took two, cut them into small chunks and tossed them with the squash.

                                             Odd? Sure. Delicious? Definitely.

The other day after lunch I was wanting something sweet and desserty yet not overly indulgent. Grilled peaches were the perfect solution. I just took two small peaches, cut them in half, removed the pit and sprinkled with cinnamon. An outdoor grill would work best, but not wanting to take the time I just threw them onto an indoor griddle/grill type thing.

They get so sweet and juicy as they cook; it is delicious. Just plain they are fantastic, but if you wanted to take it a step farther grilled peaches with ice cream would be fantastic.

On a side note, I made clean pancakes this morning using this recipe. Honestly, I really didn't like them that much. Topped with a little cashew butter, some nectarine chunks and a sprinkling of cinnamon, they were okay, but still I really I wouldn't really recommend them. It was a little disappointing actually. I guess I'll have to keep looking for a good, clean pancake recipe. I'll let you know what I find.

Question of the Day: what do you do in situations where other prepare your food? Do you pack your own food, try to make healthy choices out of what is offered, or just eat what is served and vow to eat healthy in the future?

Thanks for reading,
Ann Claire

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cleaning Up

I think this photo speaks for itself: a piece of pan grilled tilapia on a bed of mustard greens, topped with a bruschetta-like mix of tomatoes I got at the farmers market yesterday, fresh basil from my moms garden, salt, pepper, balsamic and olive oil. A delicious lunch if I do say so myself.

In my first post I said I was not going to follow a specific type of eating such as vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, low-carb, etc. However, I've changed my mind. As I don't have a specific eating plan to follow, I find it very easy to make excuses for my self. "Well, I didn't specifically say I wasn't going to eat......," I’ll say to myself and then let myself eat something that really doesn't align with the way I want to eat. Another good thing about following a specific diet (I use this word meaning the food one eats, not a weight loss diet) is the resources available. Cookbooks, magazines, blogs, and many other things are all available to assist people following a specific type of eating plan.

I have decided to follow a clean eating diet. I was browsing and was encouraged by the recipes and resources and just decided this is right for me. Consuming food in its most natural state, which is what clean eating is all about, is exactly what I want to do. I will now be following a clean diet and look forward to trying many of the clean recipes I have already found.

What is your opinion? Do you find it easier to follow a specific diet or do you find you’re better off carving your own path to healthy eating?

Check back soon for some Clean Eating Adventures!


Ann Claire

Friday, June 4, 2010

To Follow or Not To Follow

I've never been one for following recipes. I see them more as guidelines or suggestions. I look through recipes in cooking magazines, not so that I can cut them out and follow them, but merely for ideas and inspiration. I realize that recipes certainly do have a purpose, but rarely do I limit myself to one. Of course when baking you can't get quite as creative. I don't suggest throwing in a tablespoon of baking soda instead of a teaspoon of baking powder when baking cookies; it is unlikely the results would become a family favorite, in fact it might be rather disastrous.

As far as flavors and seasonings I see nothing wrong with adding a little extra of something here or there. Recipes are not perfect, if you read a recipe and think hmmm "(insert random delicious ingredient) would be good in this" by all means add some! Heck, half the time I don't even base my cooking off of a recipe. I just throw in an array of ingredients, taste it and repeat the process until the results are to my liking.

Another thing I don't like about following recipes precisely is often I don't have all the ingredients for a recipes on hand. If I want to make French toast for breakfast, I want it now! Not next week once I've gone to grocery and gathered all the required ingredients.

Anyway, on the trip to Whole Foods the other day I had picked up some 100% whole wheat organic pasta. For lunch yesterday I decided to cook some. What goes well with pasta? Veggies of course!
I began by steaming some fresh broccoli and some frozen edamame beans in the microwave for about 2 minutes (I just put them in a bowl added a little water and pressed some plastic wrap tightly across the top). I then tossed the broccoli and edamame into a saute pan with some tomatoes, lemon juice, lots of red pepper flakes and fresh garlic.

At This point I added in some Herbes De Provence, black pepper, and olive oil and let the mix continue to cook.

At this time, the pasta was cooked so I tossed that in.
It still wasn't as flavorful as I would have liked so I added in more red pepper flakes, some garlic powder (yes fresh garlic and powered garlic in one dish) and some dried parsley. Wow this was delicious! Who ever said healthy food is bland I beg to differ! Seriously this was the perfect blend of veggies and pasta, not lacking protein either (edamame beans have 11 grams of protein per serving, a serving of whole wheat pasta has about 7 and I'm sure the broccoli has a little protein too).  So flavorful and yummy!

What is your opinion: are you a strict recipe follower or do you look at them more as suggestions/guidelines? When you don't have an ingredient on hand do you improvise or wait until you can get the exact ingredients? I look forward to reading your response!

Ann Claire

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Breakfast To Go!

I went to Whole Foods yesterday to get a few things, and wow, I love that store! However, I have mixed feelings on buying organic foods. Yes, I think it's great to buy foods that are natural and without chemicals, pesticides, ect. What bothers me is the fact that it is necessary, that so much food is made with so many chemicals and what not that you have to go out of your way to buy food the way it it naturally grows. Anyone else think it's a bit crazy to pay extra for food grown the way the earth naturally produces it? Okay, I'll stop ranting.

When I got home, I decided to make some homemade granola bars using this recipe.
In went 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, a cup of whole what flour, 1tsp vanilla, 1tsp baking soda, 2 1/2 Tablespoons flax seed, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/2 a cup apple sauce and 1/3 a cup brown sugar.

At this point you could probably add in whatever you want. I stuck with the recipe by adding unsweetened shredded coconut, pecans and almonds. I then added some dried cranberries (sweetened with apple juice) and a mix of dried papaya, mango and pineapple. I thought the mix needed a little more flavor so I added in some cinnamon too. A little cloves, nutmeg or even a dash of salt to bring out the other flavors might have also been a nice addition.
I pressed the mix into a greased 9x13 and into the oven for 20 minutes (at 325 degrees).

After they cooled, I cut them into bars and sprinkled a little unsweetened coconut on top!
They are really good, a great healthy snack. Also, an easy breakfast when you're on the go!
They were pretty crumbly and some of the bars got a little broken so I took a few of the falling apart bars and crumbled  them up and put them back in the pan to bake a little longer, creating impromptu homemade granola. I think it will be perfect atop some coconut milk yogurt for breakfast tomorrow!

Last night for dinner, I had a salad I really enjoyed. Here is a picture!

A nice mix of romaine, carrots, tomatoes, pecans and cranberries (again sweetened with apple juice). I topped the salad with what has become my favorite homemade salad dressing (I have primarily topped all my salads with homemade dressing for the past 2-3 years.) A simple mix of lemon juice, honey olive oil, pepper, and Beau Monde seasoning. So simple, yet so tasty! I really recommend you try it! The Beau Monde really makes it; if you don't have any on hand, I think it's worth it to pick up a jar!

Product I recommend: Apple Juice Sweetened Cranberries. I know I've already mentioned them a few times in this blog, but they really are great. They taste much better then typical craisins as they have a nice tangy/tartness and aren't overly sweet as many brands are. Much healthier too! Available at Whole Foods Market in the dried fruit section.

Thanks for reading! If you guys could do me a huge favor and help spread the word about this blog I would really appreciate it.

Thanks a ton,

Ann Claire

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hello Blogging World!

Dreams of attending the CIA in Hyde Park or Napa Valley, opening a restaurant, or having a cooking show on the Food Network have filled my mind since age eight. I have always had a passion for food and gourmet cooking. Food is just such an amazing thing. Everyone eats it, yet there is oh so much variety and variation in the foods people consume around the world. I find it fascinating.

Recently, my passion for food has taken a slightly different turn. One that I'd certainly say is for the better. I've gotten really interested in healthy cooking and eating. I mean anyone can cook decent food using ingredients such as butter, sugar and other equally unhealthy things.

Okay, so that isn't completely true. We all know someone (or maybe even are that person) that somehow manages to mess up boxed macaroni and cheese. But really, when cooking with these types of ingredients is not all that difficult to have the end product be pretty tasty. The real challenge is making tasty food that is nutritious and good for you.

When I say healthy please do NOT do not let your mind go to images of 100 calorie packs, low-fat, or diet food and drinks. This is not what I am aiming towards. I plan to cook foods that are natural, fresh, and chemical free. While I have no specific diet or plan that I am following I do plan to eat a bit of an eastern diet and base my food choices on Michael Pollan's quote in his book In Defense of Food. "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but I have never gotten around to it. Alas, summer is here and my free time is greater so I have time to focus on nutritious and healthy cooking and eating. This is not something I am doing to lose weight or anything like that. I am doing this because I truly believe this is the way God intended humans to eat. I am tired of feeling gross and sluggish after eating the typical "American" diet. There are so many diseases today that are diet induced and are much more abundant in the Western world. Coincidence? I think not.

I invite you to join me as I branch away from the typical Western diet। I invite you to join me on my journey to a healthier self in this wonderful summer of 2010.

But enough with the chit-chat. Let's get cooking!

Unfortunately this morning I didn't have time to eat before heading out the door. Upon returning home around eleven I was quite hungry. I haven't had a chance for a Whole Foods or Sun Harvest trip yet so ingredients were slightly limited.

I began by warming on the stove some veggies that were left over from the weekend (eggplant, onions, red, orange and yellow bell peppers already sauteed with some red wine vinegar for flavor)।

After the vegetables were warmed I cracked in two eggs and some Herbes de Provence (a natural blend of garlic, herbs, spices, sea salt, and lemon peel)

When the eggs finished cooking I put the mixture on a whole grain tortilla and topped it with some homemade salsa।

Completed veggie burrito served with a sliced apricot and a few blackberries। Yum! (although extremely messy)

Thanks for reading! Check back soon!

Ann Claire