A year of pescetarian parenting and related discoveries.

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Monday, May 31

Holiday Meals

      Happy Memorial Day. Hope it was celebrated with healthy and happy meals all around. At our house, we have a tradition of having a Clam Bake in a Pot, often cooked over an open fire out back. This was the first year that I omitted the kielbasa. We didn't miss it. Here is a photo of our pot just before we dug into it a few hours ago.
     As with many of my recipes I really don't feel there is one correct way to prepare a clam bake. If you have good fresh ingredients and pay close attention to cooking time you will end up with something very tasty. This pot was just for me and the two teens, but I do include enough here to make a chowder with the leftovers (which you'll hear about in a couple of days).
     So to start - in your large stock pot saute some garlic and chopped onion in butter and olive oil until soft. Then add six new potatoes which have been washed and chopped in half and enough water to cover. Boil til almost done. Then add fresh chopped herbs, I used parsley and chives with pepper, sea salt, and gomasio, then layer in 3 ears corn cobs halved, a large white onion quartered, 3 pieces kelp, 2 lbs. mussels, 2 lbs. steamers, and whole lobster. Pour one cup white wine (beer or stock work too) and another cup or two of water. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over all and toss the rinds in. Cover and keep on a strong simmer until all foods have been fully steam cooked. I serve straight out of the pot at the outdoor table with fresh rolls and melted butter mixed with fresh herbs from the garden. And of course a glass of good wine for me.
    Here is my pick of the week from Meatless Mondays, which I think would also make a great holiday meal. Artichoke Spinach Strata

Sunday, May 30

Have a happy and healthy holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 29

Technical glitches

     My computer has been dying out on an alarmingly frequent basis, and my camera has completely died, so I am having a hard time posting lately. Hope to correct these problems, (and many others), soon. Really wanted to show you photos of some great meals I had in the last few days; fish tacos last night that were excellent, and a couple of home-made shrimp spring rolls with chili sauce that I picked up at the farmer's market this morning. I was there purchasing the bulk of my herb and vegetable plants because this weekend is devoted to getting the garden finished. I'm heading back out there now to get another hour of work in before calling it a day. Until I am able to post again I leave you with these helpful hints about getting enough fruit and vegetable servings each day, which I know can be tricky.

Tuesday, May 25

Picnics and Parties

      Well, that season is here - the season of picnics, parties and cookouts. Food temptations all over the place and usually served in social settings where celebration is expected. I find this hard. Fun, but hard. It must be much harder for kids. Last weekend I was at an evening outdoor party where duck was served (I crazy love duck) and lamb and goat sausage, in addition to the usual dishes. Then there are the potato chips that I have a lot of trouble saying no to, high fat salads that are doused in things I wouldn't cook with at home, and lots of sweet desserts, which I don't have so much trouble saying no to.
     I have given considerable thought to what I bring to the party, and want to share two ideas that work well for our family. I fall back on these two recipes often throughout the summer. With both dishes I have actually spent years tweaking the recipe so that it still tastes like a special summertime treat, but with both I have made several healthy modifications so that I can feel good about eating it myself as well as feeding it to my kids.
       The first is one of my specialties;

Yankee Baked Beans
     I use small white beans and do soak them overnight or simmer awhile. This version qualifies as a super food in my book because in addition to being vegetarian I have replaced molasses with honey. I got lots of compliments on the last batch.
     Drain beans, reserving liquid in case needed later, and put in bean pot. Saute a chopped white onion in a small amount of butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Add chopped fresh herbs, and a rib of celery. Slowly stir in a bit of tomato paste, a half cup ketchup, a half cup barbecue sauce, and a half cup honey, salt and pepper. When blended add a bottle of beer. I sprinkled in a generous shake of seaweed gomasio and vegetarian b'con bits too. Pour into pot and mix gently. Cover pot and bake at 250 for 6 or 7 hours.

Better Potato Salad

       I promise that this still tastes like your Mama's not so very good for you potato salad, but a small scoop of this has lots to offer your body. Boil  six medium potatoes and 4 small eggs til cooked. Let cool. In a large bowl pour 1/3 cup pickle juice, add chopped potatoes and eggs. Season with fresh chopped chives and parsley. Season with salt, pepper, seaweed gomasio, celery seed, tumeric, mustard, garlic powder, and paprika. Slowly fold in one chopped pickle, one chopped rib of celery, and some chopped onion, with just enough mayo made from olive oil to combine. Add it slowly so that you don't overdo. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

     And here is an idea for a really original  green salad from this weeks offerings at Meatless Mondays. It's one that I think young children would enjoy making and eating.

     These three recipes should get you (and me) through the long cookout season with dishes that everyone at the party can, and should, enjoy. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 22

Safe Fish Checklist

Safe Fish Checklist For Children, Teens and Women of Childbearing Age

     A large body of research supports the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, yet American diets are highly deficient in omega-3s. Fish are an important source of both omega-3s and protein, but they are often contaminated with methylmercury (which is a potent neurotoxicant) and PCBs (which have been linked to cancer). People should neither avoid fish consumption, nor consume fish blindly.
Use this checklist to help you find the safest fish:
~ Buy your fish from someone whom you can ask questions. Ask where the fish came from, when it is in season, if it was farmed or is wild. If it’s farmed, how was it grown? If it’s wild, how was it caught? Is this fish really a... (red snapper, grouper, wild salmon, etc.)? According to the Environmental Defense Fund, these are prime candidates for fish fraud.
~ If you eat fish that you or someone else has caught, check if there is an advisory against eating the seafood. Contact your state department of health or check out the US Environmental Protection Agency's state-by-state list of fish advisories.
~ Look for fish that are lowest in contaminants. Opt for species that are small in size, low in fat, and that don’t live on the bottom of waterways. Safer fish include Herring, Mackerel, Anchovies, Clams, Wild Alaskan Salmon, Shrimp, Tilapia, and Black Sea Bass. Reduce the most contaminated fish from your diet, including ahi or bigeye tuna, tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and fish caught in any waters that are subject to a mercury advisory. In regards to canned tuna, Albacore or solid white tuna is most likely to have higher concentrations of mercury, and chunk light tuna, lower concentrations. Print the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Safe Seafood Pocket Guide, get the Safe Seafood app for your iPhone, or use FishPhone (Blue Ocean’s text messaging service) to always have safe fish information on hand.

~ Choose wild-caught instead of farmed for most species. Farming can have negative impacts on the environment and health. This is especially true for Atlantic salmon.
~ Keep servings in proportion and eat different kinds of seafood from meal to meal. For an adult, a serving size is about 4 to 6 ounces. Serve proportionately less for a child—about 2 to 3 ounces. Try not to eat the same fish or shellfish more than once a week. Since children get most of their mercury from canned tuna, it is important for parents to limit their children's consumption to less than one ounce of canned light tuna for every 12 pounds of body weight per week, in order to stay below the level of mercury the EPA considers safe.

~ Reduce PCBs, dioxins and some pesticides in fish and shellfish by using cooking methods that reduce fat;
■Trim fat, skin, and any darker meat along the top or center of the fillet.

■Remove the mustard from crabs and the tomalley from lobsters.

■Broil, grill, bake or steam to cook the seafood. Use a pan that allows fat to drip away from the fish, such as a broiling pan or steaming basket. Avoid frying fish.

■Avoid sauces made from liquid fish drippings or cooking water.

■Avoid dishes that call for whole fish with internal organs intact.

NOTE: Mercury cannot be reduced by these methods.

~ Consider reducing your consumption of fish that are over-fished or raised / harvested in an environmentally questionable manner. You can send a text message to the Blue Ocean Institute’s Fish Phone to instantly learn sustainable seafood information. To find out about your seafood choice, text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question. They’ll text you back with their assessment and better alternatives to fish with significant environmental concerns.

Wednesday, May 19

Monday, May 17

Fiddleheads and Sea Scallops

     In spring a young woman's fancy turns to thoughts of fiddleheads.
     Ok, I am playing fast and loose with that notion, just for fun. Fiddleheads though, should never be treated fast and loose. On the contrary. Fiddleheads need to be slow and tight.
     I'm not sure if the rest of the country enjoys fresh and local fiddleheads as we do in here in the northeastern United States. After our long hard winters they help us mark the beginning of our warmer, funner, usually happier season and we rejoice in seeing them and eating them. I love the name, obviously after what they resemble. Here is what they look like just after washing and trimming the woody ends. You can see what they actually are; tender fern fronds yet unfurled.

     There are lots of ways to prepare them, just simply sauteing them in garlic and butter will do just fine. It is generally accepted that you should blanch them first in boiling water and then remove to a quick ice bath before proceeding with your recipe. This serves two purposes; to remove any bitterness and to bring out an even brighter vernal green color. Tonight I found myself out of rice, and turned to baked potato to serve this recipe over. It worked out well.

Sea Scallops and Fiddleheads

     Heat 1 T butter and olive oil in frying pan. Saute minced garlic then adding one at a time; chopped onion,  mushrooms, and prepared fiddleheads, stirring for a few minutes each time. Then add washed scallops (mine were so large I cut them into thirds) and stir. Add white wine and let simmer briefly. Season to taste. Serve over an open baked potato with a dollop of sour cream tossed with fresh garden herbs.

Here are the nutrition stats for fiddleheads;

Tuesday, May 11

Strawberry Banana Pancakes and Fiesta Nachos

Strawberry Banana Pancakes
     There is a yummy, super healthy, kid friendly breakfast recipe from the Meatless Monday offerings this week.
     And here is one I just offered up, for younger chidren you can call them Fiesta Nachos because they are so colorful. A great game day treat for grown-ups too.

 For the bottom layer I like to use both blue and white corn tortilla chips. The next layer was a couple of scoops of vegetarian chili, and some salsa. Next is my homemeade guacamole which I keep a superfood by using no oil, just fresh avocado mashed with chopped tomato, onion, lime juice and cilantro. Then comes a moderate amount of greek yogurt (you can mix with some sour cream if you can't deal with that) and shredded jack cheese spread over the top. I sprinkled some choppped green pepper on too, topped with another handful of chopped cilantro. You should think of nachos like pizza though, there is no one right way to do it. Just focus on going heavy on the good for you stuff, and going lightly on the higher fat ingredients. Warm these up in the oven for just a few minutes, and serve with plenty of napkins. Most teenagers go wild for a tray of these, and you can feel pretty good about serving them.
Next up, rhubarb recipes, I have a bountiful crop up in the backyard, where I've been hard at work lately spreading fresh loam in all of the raised beds.

Tuesday, May 4

Pasta dishes and Lentil Balls

     Have had a few great meals since my last post. Back in December when I first announced to my friends that we were going on a pescetarian diet, one of my best girlfriends said "Don't resort to a pasta diet." I assured her I wouldn't do that. But this week I may have overindulged in pasta. A few days ago; truffled lobster macaroni and cheese, served to me with a side salad at a new retro diner near my house. Delightfully decadent.

I had half of it for lunch the next day, and even the half portions seemed so rich I felt the need to waddle to the gym. A few days later I bought some fresh local shrimp and was craving the garlicky goodness of scampi even though it is not a dish that my children appreciate. I whipped this up, shrimp scampi with spring herbs, and served it over fresh (not boxed) linguine, with just a bit of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. As my kids didn't devour this dish I also had two meals from it. And back to the gym I went.
In a desperate attempt to redeem myself as a healthy food blogger I am going to whip up this super-food recipe shared by Meatless Monday yesterday. Lentil Balls with Raita. Now if you'll excuse me I've got to get back to the gym.