Back to School Fuel

Hello everyone!  Melissa and I are so excited to share with you what we have been working on.

It’s our new interactive iBook, Back to School FuelCheck it out and our new site!

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Roasted Veggie and Lentil Salad

imageHands down my new favorite!  This salad is super versatile too…if you don’t like asparagus you can use haricot verts (the super skinny green beans) or try carrots sliced in skinny strips. The asparagus is best when you can find the very narrow spears.

This takes a few steps but it gets better as it sits in the fridge so it’s perfect to make on a Sunday and bring to lunch the following week.  I used Trader Joes steamed lentils that they sell in the produce section.  Of course, you can easily start from scratch with a bag of uncooked lentils.  Lentils are a great source of protein and the veggies are loaded with an array of vitamins and antioxidants so this is perfect for a one bowl lunch or dinner.  You will definitely want to consider doubling this recipe!

Roasted Veggie and Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

1 c lentils

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 ears sweet corn

9 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 c chopped dill

1/4 c chopped basil leaves

3 T red wine vinegar

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on veggies prior to roasting

sea salt

If cooking your own lentils:

Combine lentils, garlic, and 1/2 t salt in a saucepan.  Add enough water to cover lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils are tender. Drain and transfer to large bowl.

While cooking lentils, bring pot of  salted water to a boil and cook corn for 4 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.  Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from cob.  Combine corn with cooked lentils.

Preheat oven to 425.  On large foil-lined cookie sheet place halved cherry tomatoes and asparagus (and/or any other veggie that suits your fancy).  Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Season with sea salt.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Some of the veggies should be starting to brown on top. I like them a little crunchy!

Add remaining ingredients to lentils, corn, and veggies and toss well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or cold.  YUM!

Eat your veggies:)

Melissa

Caramelized Roasted Tomatoes

Here is a terrific side dish for fish or chicken.  I actually made a big pot of quinoa and had the tomatoes over quinoa tossed with a little lemon olive oil and parmesan cheese…a perfect lunch!

I love the small heirloom tomatoes available at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I used one container for this recipe.

Here’s what you need:

1 container small heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or 10 plum tomatoes

4 T extra virgin olive oil

1  1/2 T balsamic vinegar

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 t sugar

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half and arrange (cut side up) on foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.  The garlic is messy but I placed a piece on each tomato one by one. ( I didn’t want any to be left out of the party!)  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until tomatoes are beginning to caramelize.  May be served warm or at room temperature.

Peace and veggies,

Melissa

Farmer’s Market Butternut Squash Soup

Sprouting Souls is back at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market today from 8AM until noon. Stop by to say hello and taste our warm and yummy butternut squash soup!

Winter squash is abundant at the farmer’s market and grocery stores now. Everything from Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti, and then some, are easy to find, easy to fix, and chock full of nutrients that will help your whole family stay healthy this season. Did you know that squash has 214% of our daily allowance of Vitamin A? That’s a whole lot of good for the peepers! The most recent studies show that squash is an outstanding source of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories; key components to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Here’s a really simple way to make butternut squash soup. For even faster preparation, Trader Joe’s is selling frozen sliced leeks and most grocery stores are offering pre-cut chunks of squash. You can add your favorite herbs and spices or a splash of white wine for a little extra flair or a dollop of Greek yogurt for extra creaminess. I love it just like this and so do the kids!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 butternut squash

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup sliced leeks

2 t grated ginger

salt and pepper to taste

Wash, dry and slice butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Line one or two cookie sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Pierce skin with fork a few times and place cut-side down on cookie sheet. Place in 400 degree oven for 60 minutes or until very tender. Let cool until easy to handle and then scoop the squash out of the skin and set aside. Heat 1 T olive oil in dutch oven or soup pot over low heat. Add sliced leeks and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add grated ginger and saute a minute or two more. Pour in broth, add squash, salt and pepper and blend until combined. Cover and cook on medium low for 20-30 minutes longer. If you want a thinner soup, add extra broth or water. Allow to cool a bit and then puree with an emulsion blender. (You can also place small batches in a regular blender, just be sure to let it cool first)

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Spaghetti Squash with Peas

I’ve always shied away from spaghetti squash.  Every time I see it in a recipe or referenced in an article it seems to be paired with a marinara sauce…I guess the two together just don’t appeal to me.  Anyway, they are abundant right now and I feel guilty every time I pass them up in favor of my favorite butternut variety.  Yes, guilty, like the spaghetti squash is screaming, “What did I ever do to you? It wouldn’t kill you to give me a try!”  So, I decided to buy it, cook it, and then figure out what to do with it.

It was actually easier to cook than a large butternut because I did not have to cut it in half first.  I just rinsed it off, poked it with holes, placed in a baking dish lined with foil, and put it in the oven at 375 degrees.  I checked it after an hour and it felt like it needed a bit longer so I left it in for another 15 minutes.  It was very tender and easy to slice in half. I then scooped out the long strands of squash, placed them in a bowl, separated them a bit with a fork, drizzled on some olive oil, salt and pepper, and took a bite. Quite good, not packed with flavor, but good.  I decided to steam some frozen peas and season with a lemon olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and sea salt.  I really like it!  So simple, yet filling and healthy.  Next time I’m going to try adding more veggies and feta or goat cheese!  Because it’s so easy to season with whatever makes you happy, it’s  a great dish for the kids to help with.  Let them add their own healthy toppings and you may have a new family favorite!

What’s so great about spaghetti squash?  It provides your body with folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene.  It’s also super low in calories, 42 per cup!!

Peace and greens,

Melissa

GMOs, Part 3…What Can We Do?

I know it’s been pretty depressing this week with all the GMO posts but there are some things we can do to protect ourselves.  First, buy organic whenever possible.  Just last week there was some information in the media about it not being all that important to buy organic.  Interestingly, there is evidence that this study was done to undermine organic farmers and the initiative to label GMOs.  It was backed by big GMO advocates.  Unfortunately, buying organic is the only way to know for certain that what you are eating is not genetically modified.

Try to find substitutes for your favorite boxed or bagged snacks if they are not already organic.  For example, one of the products almost always in my pantry is a box of Nabisco Wheat Thins.   I’m pretty sure that the soybean oil purchased by Nabisco is made with genetically modified soybeans.  My kids LOVE Wheat Thins so I’m going shopping on Saturday for a replacement. First I will look at Trader Joe’s because all of their products are GMO free and usually much less costly than Whole Foods.  Whatever I can’t replace at TJs I will most likely be able to find at Whole Foods.  The major supermarket chains also have their own brand of organic cereal and crackers.

Second, cut diet soda out of your life completely!  Aspartame, the fake sweetener used in all diet Pepsi and diet Coke products is created by using genetically modified BACTERIA! Yuck!  If you love your diet soda, it may take a few days to give it up; aspartame is also known to be addictive!  (BTW, don’t replace it with regular soda made with high-fructose CORN syrup!  Corn is one of the most genetically engineered crops!)  Aspartame is also found in most sugar-free products like chewing gum, hard candies, and yogurt.  Read the label on any “diet” food like Weight Watchers or Snackwells and you will probably find aspartame (also known as Nutrasweet and Equal).

Lastly, buy local produce whenever you can.  Most of the GMO crops are from large, industrial farms. By shopping at your farmer’s market or subscribing to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) you will be able to avoid GM products and possibly save money at the same time.

Tomorrow I will post about the “plu” stickers we find on produce at the supermarket.  They can tell us quite a bit about what we’re buying!

Peace and greens,

Melissa

GMOs MUST GO!

There is a new documentary floating around this week and after watching it I feel I can’t just sit here and do nothing. Lucky for me I have an outlet to speak my mind and share information! This is such important information for all of us, but no one more so than the mothers of young children, pregnant women, and women trying to get pregnant. The documentary is free to watch for a limited time and I urge you all to watch it. It is lengthy, about 90 minutes, but you will never think about our country’s food supply the same way again. We are going to continue to make ourselves and our children very sick if we keep our heads in the sand.

Pass this along to every mother and pregnant woman you know!

Peace and ORGANIC beans,

Melissa

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/15/genetic-roulette-gmo-documentary.aspx?e_cid=20120915_DNL_artNew_1genetic-roulette-gmo-documentary.aspx?e_cid=20120915_DNL_artNew_1