Today, we have Sarah from The Naughty Tastebud. I met Sarah back in college when we were both Interior Design students slaving over cardboard models, drafting tables and laptops and inhaling too much super glue fumes. Her blog is quite inspiring as she's always whipping up unique dishes (like green curry chicken or pumpkin gobs!), that she makes look and sound delicious. After you read her brilliant post below, go check out her blog.
In January of 2009 my husband, Brad, and I decided to change our eating habits. Looking back we had been gearing up to change our food habits for a while – we joined local food Cleveland, read various Michael Pollan books, watched all the trendy films and talked a lot about how we wanted to change but as with a lot of things in life, we didn’t do anything. I’m not sure what the final straw was, but something just clicked with us that particular new years and we decided to take action.
It’s not that we ate particularly bad before, it just depends on your definition of bad. We thought we ate pretty healthy, but then we starting reading the labels of our ‘healthy’ processed foods. Besides fruits & veggies, our typical trip to the grocery store used to include lots of processed foods – low fat granola bars, pretzels or sun chips, fat free yogurt, pita bread (with way too many ingredients), laughing cow cheese, cottage cheese (holy sodium!), canned soup (holy sodium again!), instant oatmeal, cereal, pre-made turkey burgers, pre-made Italian sausages, wheat bread (once again with way too many ingredients), ground turkey, chicken, concentrated juice, fat free instant pudding...etc. Once we started reading the labels we got a little concerned at all the unidentifiable ingredients in the foods we were putting in our bodies. I believe it is in one of Michael Pollan’s books he says if something has more than 5 ingredients in it, he won’t eat it. We decided to try out this rule, as well as his motto “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and started shopping at our local health food grocery store, signed up for a plot in our community garden and so our food journey began.
It started off as a way to save on our grocery bill and of course, as a way to be a little healthier, but we soon realized we didn’t miss meat much. We still occasionally buy it and enjoy it in social settings, but we gave up our weekly pound of ground turkey & boneless, skinless chicken breasts we used to buy and haven’t missed it. We enjoyed the search for vegetarian dishes and have discovered some of our most favorite meals. We swapped cereal for homemade granola or oatmeal, canned soup for homemade, pretzels & sun chips for veggies with homemade hummus & black bean dip, meatloaf/assorted chicken dinners for lentil loaf (try it, absolutely delicious!), veggie stir fries, homemade soups, homemade veggie burgers, and an assortment of lentil or bean dishes. We found not only have we saved on our grocery bill, we feel better too. The more we explored our new eating habits the more we realized how important local food was to us so we signed up for a community garden plot and have been able to enjoy the fruits of our labor the past few years....amazing how much more delicious and ‘real’ your food tastes when it comes from your own backyard.
Recently we have been on an Indian food kick. It is such a versatile cuisine, laden with vegetables and spices, we feel both healthy and extremely satisfied after an Indian meal. We love going out for Indian, but with a 5 month old, staying in for Indian is even better. Brad is the best when it comes to making something out of nothing and just throwing a meal together, so as long as we have fresh veggies, rice, coconut milk & curry (all staples for us) I know we won’t starve that night. It will come as no surprise then that my most favorite dish in the whole world is an Indian dish – Spicy Chickpea Soup – paired with homemade naan and oh my gosh, doesn’t get much better than that!
Spicy Chickpea Soup
recipe courtesy of Gathering's Kitchen
Ingredients:(2) 19-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
(1) 13.5 ounce can light coconut milk
1/2 C crush or chopped tomatoes
1/4 C apple juice
1/4 cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp garam masala (recipe below)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (we used fresh)
1 C chicken stock
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 C plain yogurt
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
In a blender, combine the drained chickpeas with the coconut milk, chopped tomatoes, apple juice, cilantro leaves, garam masala and ground ginger and puree the mixture until smooth.
Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Season to taste with salt & black pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with yogurt and scallion greens and serve.
recipe courtesy of epicurious.com
1 tablespoon dried miniature rosebuds (or black cardamom pods - optional)
A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/3 cup coriander seeds
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 dried red chile
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
If the roses have stems, break them off and discard. Heat the roses with the cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, whole peppercorns, cloves, and chile in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cumin becomes brown, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill, add the nutmeg and mace, and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.