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Showing posts from 2015

Recipe: Harvest Fruit Salad

I made a fantastic top-of-my-head Harvest Fruit Salad for thanksgiving, and everyone LOVED it. In a meal full of rich, dense, salty flavors, this salad felt like a palate-cleanser between courses. Very bright and refreshing, tart like cranberry sauce and serving a very similar purpose.

Keep in mind, this recipe is a bit of a work in progress. Besides being a dump cook, I also made a recipe twice this big for 15 people and it turned out to be way too much, though no one was upset being sent home with leftovers! Scale up at about half an apple (or pear) per person, and you should be good, even with some leftovers.


Salad:
2 Honey crisp apples
2 Granny Smith apples
2 Some other kind of apples (I tried to get the ones that are pink inside but no luck; make it flavorful and visually appealing)
1 Pear
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup candied walnuts, for garnish

4-6 lemons, probably

Dressing:
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 to 1/2 cup canola oil (avocado or a light olive oil would be…

Menu: Nov 9-15

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You know how I said we'd already planned half our menu for this week? Yeah. Guess what we forgot?

Incidentally, this week was not difficult for menu planning at all, so I'm just going to save those ideas for next week. And it's an easy one too, I guess we just weren't feeling too complicated today.


What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Steak & eggs, Breakfast hash, english muffins, oatmeal.

Lunches: Mini pizzas, leftover soup (tortellini and Tuesday's chicken), burritos, sandwiches.

Snacks: Applesauce, fruit (oranges, grapefruit, apples & nut butter).

Dinners:
Monday: Mr. Moon's hosting again so we're taking advantage of his meal being free! I'm kind of hoping they have a nice wine-free special because I'm getting a little worn out on ravioli. [Out]

Tuesday: Thai Chicken Soup [chicken; soup; Thai; rice cooker]

Wednesday: Spaghetti, with fresh mozzarella and homemade sauce [vegetarian; pasta; Italian]

Thursday: I got sick last week so we're trying …

Menu: November 2-8

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Why was menu planning so hard this week? We were struggling to come up with something suitable for Saturday night, but kept coming up with things that were not too difficult but a higher difficulty than we wanted for a late night dinner.

Which now that I say that, I'm thinking of making some sort of difficulty level for menu items. Fridays & Saturdays have the potential to be a late night, so we like to have dinner in the crockpot or at least fully prepped so all we have to do is heat it or even just walk in the door and eat. Monday & Tuesday nights we have to work around whatever Mr. Moon's evening schedule is, plus knowing there's an early morning ahead so we don't want to risk dinner being too late. On-Call shifts we basically treat as if he's working, as far as dinner prep goes. So besides just working with a "Weeknight vs. Weekend" kind of difficulty level, it's "I don't want this to take more than ten minutes" and "30 …

Menu: Oct 26 - Nov 1

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Happy Halloween! My favorite day of the year, tied with my birthday. Traditionally in my family we always had chili and hot dogs in the crockpot for Halloween. When I moved out here, I missed a year doing it. I didn't need to feed a family of people at different times, or have something ready to warm us up when we got back from trick or treating. But still, I found I was kind of sad about it. So the next year, I introduced Mr. Moon to my longstanding family tradition of chili & hot dogs as Halloween dinner. And I've done it ever since.

Somehow we ended up with an easy week ahead of us, though still with plenty of home cooked meals in store. We're getting used to the new schedule, albeit with a few reservations on my part. I'm keenly aware that we're over stocked with food, and we're working together to eat through it instead of buying more, so this menu focuses a lot on Eating the Larder as it were. 

What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Oatmeal in the rice co…

Cocktails: Making our own grape-free Vermouth

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I have a jar collection. It's a habit that borders on hoarding, in the sense that I compulsively save them because it seems a shame to get rid of something so useful, except that I actually use and cycle through my jars doing various projects.

This is one of those projects.

Since I'm allergic to grapes, we simply omit vermouth from any cocktails that call for them. Of course, it means the cocktails are not quite right. I got a wild idea one day to figure out what it would take to make our own, and discovered... it's actually really easy. It just required a lot of small jars. Which I happened to have on hand.

There's plenty of recipes online, but it boils down to:

Steep some flavorful things in a spirit.Carefully add the flavored spirits into some sort of dry wine, tasting as you go, until you get a flavor you like; the final result seems to be a goal of about 50/50 wine and vodka. 
Of course, it's more complicated. For dark drinks, like Manhattans, apparently you…

Menu Planning for the Rest of Us

I've discussed before what my method of menu planning is. It hasn't changed much with it just being the two of us agin, except that if we don't do it, there's no one to suffer but ourselves!

The basics boil down to:

Know what you have in the fridge.Know what's in season/on sale.Know your schedule and be reasonable about what you can accomplish.Make the most of the time you spend cooking.  With our more-limited freezer space, I find we now focus less on freezing heat & eat foods, and more on having versatile ingredients on hand to make a variety of meals fairly quickly. Instead of making a pan of broccoli mac to put right into the oven, using freezer space for noodles that could otherwise be dry storage and ingredients that can only be used for one possible meal, we have pre-roasted chicken shredded and frozen in meal-size packages just waiting to be casserole, tacos, a pre-made pasta salad for lunches, and more. We buy foods and store them with this idea in mind…

Updating our chore chart, and protecting Relaxation time

Our new schedule, as I mentioned a few days ago, included needed to re-arrange our chore schedule. I'm sure I could have sat down and worked it out myself, but part of being a team means it's important that we are BOTH included in the work that shapes our lives. It's important to both of us that even if we do each have skills and responsibilities consistent with traditional gender roles, we are making our choices together and mindfully. It's one thing to have me typing up our decisions that we make together and helping him stick to them; it's another thing altogether for me to make decisions for him when they primarily impact his schedule and responsibilities as if he has no information or opinion to contribute.

It was a perfect opportunity to discuss as well what parts of our current/now-previous system were in need of improvement, and what new habits or skills we want to be incorporating. For example, we've had a bad habit of going grocery shopping and leavin…

Menu: Oct 12-18

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With Mr. Moon's new promotion, there's a little bit of shuffling our lives are doing. One of those shuffles is getting a little deeper into food prep & menu planning, since our week is even more structured than it has been. He has a few hours before his actual shift where he's on-call for emergencies, so he can get up early to make breakfast but we also need to be prepared to run out the door with little notice. That's where something like oatmeal comes in! We can set it up the night before in the rice cooker then just have him wake up, pour in some liquid (if we don't soak the grains overnight) and turn it on. Hot breakfast right when I wake up, even if he had to take a cab to work. Maybe soon we will even try making our own instant oatmeal packets!

What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Oatmeal, egg sandwiches, cottage cheese & pineapple, leftover rice & beans w/ egg on top.

Lunches: Tortilla soup, turkey wraps, quesadillas.

Snacks: Power balls, apple & …

Making our chore schedule from scratch

With Mr. Moon's recent promotion, and subsequent phasing out of his retail job from his schedule, we've had to completely revisit our chore schedule. This has been a bit more difficult than I expected, because of how intricately I'd weaved the chores and the rest of our lives together. But that's exactly why what we had was no longer working.

Tuesdays were laundry days, but he works during the day now. Trouble is, weekdays during the day is when the laundry room has lower demand, which is why we picked it; and because Tuesday is laundry day, Monday is bathrooms day so the cloth wipes can soak overnight. So switching laundry day to, say, Thursday or Monday means unraveling everything.

And laundry isn't the only thing like that! Most everything is a twice-a-week job, deeper cleaning on one day and a tidy-up on another. We'd had Friday as a day to do little bits of highly visible tidying before the weekend, populated by late nights, early mornings, at least one an…

Let's talk about "healthy eating," diets, and mental health

It took two weeks for the hefty restrictions of this candida cleanse to wear me down into the beginnings of a full-on breakdown, stalled only by me recognizing what was happening because it's not my first rodeo. The details of it are personal and largely irrelevant, but the big-picture effects are not.

There's no chance I will say this better than others have before me. So-called healthy eating, clean eating, cleanses, dieting, and the like are not accessible to everyone. There are hundreds of essays available across the internet about the privileges of healthy eating, and the lack of access to fresh foods in poverty-stricken areas, communities of color, and by people with disabilities. We know for an unmitigated fact that dieting is bad for us, and leads to malnutrition, unhealthy eating patterns, and can trigger mildly disordered eating into full-blown dysphoria and eating disorders.

It is a mark of privilege, of which I'm aware, that I even had the opportunity to try th…

31 days: Power Balls (No-Bake, candida-diet friendly)

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Power Balls
One of the hardest parts of the candida diet is the sudden Hangries. Especially the first three days. Having something flavorful and filling to hand is a must. This recipe also helps sweep out the candida that's been starved & killed with supplements.

I feel like the original recipe started with this one, but it's been perfected for our tastes since then. I had to double it, and it didn't work well. So, here's ours.
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Power Balls (No-Bake)
The Formula:
2 cups nut butter
4 cups binder
1/2 cup sweetener syrup
3/4 to 1 cup fun chunky bits

Binders:
coconut flour
flax seed meal
nut meal
grain bran
seeds

Chunks:
Nuts
seeds
dried fruits
candy chips (chocolate, butterscotch, etc.)

Mix nut butter, binder, and syrup in a mixing bowl, or using the dough hook of your stand mixer. Stir in chunky bits. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then roll into balls of preferred size.

Candida-Cleanse friendly version!
2 cups almond butter (mine was the end of the jar, a l…

31 days: Spicy Shrimp Salad

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Spicy Shrimp Salad
We like a lot of spice anyway, and I'm finding this cleanse has really made us crave spicy foods. So you'll see a lot of spicier dishes in this series. I'm not surprised by this; when I was super low carb before, my spice tolerance was at ghost pepper levels. Since I started eating sweets again, I noticed I have a much lower heat tolerance, and I wasn't sure if they were related. It's nice to get some more correlating data for my theory that the more sweets I eat, the less spice I can tolerate. I'd rather do spice.

This as pictured, however, is surprisingly low on the spice despite the name. I've got tips for spicing it up as we go, what I'll do differently next time.

Tip: Trader Joe's Mayo is candida diet friendly! It has no sugar, and the vinegar used in it is apple cider vinegar. Stock up, if you don't want to spend time making your own. 
Spicy Shrimp Salad
Candida Cleanse friendly!

Salad greens
Cucumber
Tomato
Orange or red …

31 days of Blogging: Challenge Accepted

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In 2012, I did a 31 Days of Dinner blogging challenge where you pick a topic and write about it for 31 days. I enjoyed the idea, and while the original challenger isn't doing it this year, I'm going to do it again!

With this Candida Cleanse, I spent a lot of time looking for recipes. So. MANY. of the recipes labeled anti-candida-diet-friendly on Pinterest are decidedly NOT (seriously, orange-maple candied carrots anyone? Every single ingredient was banned). And as a result I've struggled to find menu ideas that are both appealing and on this cleanse. I'll also be linking to these posts on Pinterest so hopefully it can infuse some helpfulness into those search results.
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Day One:

This cleanse is killing my counter space. But it makes me smile to see so many fresh veggies waiting to be used! Avocados, tomatoes, rutabagas, bell peppers, and a couple green apples sitting there too.

Green apples are a quibbling point on this diet; some versions allow som…

Fun with Food! Condiments

I have a TON of baby food jars, freecycled and left over from a former project. I use them to make small batches of all sorts of things, like my little tub of coconut oil that lives with my cosmetics or the overflow pain cream from a batch that was made too big for the squeeze bottle it lives in. 
One of the things I want to play with is condiments. Right now we can't eat mustard, of all things, because the vinegar in it us usually white vinegar, and only Apple Cider Vinegar is approved. Lucky for us, Trader Joe's mayo is both sugar free (why I started buying it) and made with ACV, as well as other approved ingredients. Whole Foods sells some mayos that don't have sugar, but TJ's was the only SF one that didn't taste like rotten fish to me. And I can't speak to their vinegars. By the time places like Safeway jumped on the fancy mayo bandwagon, I was already a convert and not looking to change. 
So now I'm looking for tiny-batch recipes of condiments, so tha…

Candida Cleanse: Week one in review

For starters, I can't get my printer to work, so I can't print off the motivational sheet I made, nor the food list & cleanse plan. Frustrating.

We did not, by sheer happenstance, do the CandidaGo! pills or detox tea or ACV baths for the first three days. We just plum forgot, but I imagine the die-off associated with those extra steps would have made it even harder to deal with. 
In accordance with the prophecy, the first three days were the worst. We started Monday morning bright and early, and spent until Wednesday afternoon with what seemed a constant, gnawing, hungry ache in our bellies. Despite plenty of food along the way. By Wednesday dinnertime, however, it started to ease up and the rest of the week has been, if not a breeze, easier to handle. 
Mr. Moon managed not to absently eat an oatmeal cookie that was sitting right in front of him for the duration of a conversation at work, and I successfully navigated a surprise party for our neighbor's birthday full of…

Back to reality

It's been... a minute or two since I last posted. As I was telling my family on vacation, there's a lot going on, but none of it is terribly exciting to talk about and even less exciting to hear about.

I got into coloring in like actual legit adult coloring books. It's a lot of fun, and definitely some nice stress relief.

After June's failed attempt at the candida cleanse, we left it until after our vacation. And then I decided I needed a few days to recuperate before risking too much shock to my body. So, we're getting back at it tomorrow.

In reviewing the rules, I discovered that it's a little less restrictive than I'd previously understood it to be. As in, it's not NO NUTS, it's no peanuts, cashews or pistachios but almonds, pecans, and walnuts are fine. It's not quite NO GRAINS, buckwheat and quinoa are still okay in moderation. That makes it quite a bit easier to manage, all things considered.

Though what I did discover is that the respirat…

Candida Cleanse part four: On Pause

The five days of progress that we made at the beginning of this are proof enough to me that it's a good thing to be done. But for now, I'm afraid it will have to be on hold. My doctor who was supportive of the effort, isn't comfortable with me proceeding with this cold, since it's not clearing up as quickly as it probably should. I'm to redouble my efforts to kick it in the butt, without stressing my body further with any significant dietary changes and a cleanse. As most of the candida diet sites will (or should) tell you, doing a cleanse when your body is otherwise fighting a major illness is not wise, and can be downright dangerous. My focus right now is Not Getting Pneumonia (again). And that will have to do.

With this revelation, it became apparent just how good a sport Mr. Moon was being about the "no alcohol" portion of this endeavor occurring over his birthday. As that's now been cancelled, he's pretty excited to go out for a drink and som…

What do you do when you get sick?

This cold is really throwing me for a loop. I keep feeling better then worse again.

My mom asked me today what I'm doing for it, and I told her I'm throwing everything I've got at it. "Like what?" she asked. I'm not sure I understand why she asked with such incredulity, but I started listing things:

Antibiotics (since I ended up with a sinus and lower respiratory infection, awesome)SudafedMucinexRobitussinCodeine cough syrup at nightVitamin C cough dropsTylonel (for fever & both the headache and muscle aches from fever & coughing)FloVent (steroids for asthma)FloNase (steroids for allergies)Zyrtec (because it's allergy season anyway)Albuterol (yay asthma!) And besides the pharmaceuticals, of course I'm doing home remedy things too: TeaPineapple (supposed to be a cough suppressant)Coconut waterSoup, broth, whatever warm liquids with nutrients I can standHoney (though I had to toss my jar of lemon ginger honey and haven't made more)Eucalyptus s…

Candida Cleanse part three: Adding insult to injury

[In case you're just jumping in, Parts One & Two are available at their respective links.]

Today, or more accurately last night, the nasty cold I had turned into not JUST bronchitis, but an upper AND lower respiratory infection. Besides the antibiotics, the doctor at the urgent care clinic reminded me that dairy increases mucus production and thickness, and so should be avoided while this clears up (and if I'm entirely honest, all the time because asthma). How convenient that the candida diet doesn't allow much dairy anyway.

I just can't catch a break. This really is going to get worse before it gets better. And I'm going to have to throw every ounce of creative energy at the problem to solve it. I'm surprised at how fired-up I am though, rather than feeling overwhelmed like I did two weeks ago. I'm ready to knuckle down and DO THIS.

Candida Cleanse part two: False starts

[Just joining us? See part one here.]

The quick & dirty of the Candida Cleanse is mostly the diet. No grains of any kind (even whole ones), no legumes or nuts (because high mold content), limited (specific) dairy, nothing made with mold/yeast including anything made with vinegar except apple cider vinegar, no caffeine (though I'm iffy on the science of that one). We decided that we'd go All Meat & Veg for the month of June, then add back in the low-carb items (like nuts & cheese) in July. Two months is totally do-able, right? Last time, I felt better after 5 days going low-carb, so 2 months should clear everything right up.

May 31st came around and well, my period is not a fun time to be me. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say, I should have gone to the hospital for fluids, I was that dehydrated. Getting fluids in me was more important than starting a new treatment plan that would only increase the stress on my body. Gatorade was my friend, but not…

Candida Cleanse part one: The lead-up

Feel free to assume there's TMI ahead, y'all. Skip to the break if you want some less-medical talk involving some intimate areas. 

It's taken me YEARS to come around to this. I've always thought of the candida cleanse as hokey, hippy nonsense. Magickal woo. But after my first appointment with (yet another) new doctor, my brain got to noodling. I've been prone to fungal infections for my adult life. At one point I was diagnosed with a low-grade vaginal infection and was told that I'd probably had this FOR FIVE YEARS based on my symptoms and the resulting NERVE DAMAGE. I went through a year of physical therapy and lidocaine therapy to repair the nerve and muscle and tissue damage. It was awful. By some sheer happenstance, I also went low-carb around the same time to treat my newly diagnosed hypoglycemia. The fungal infection raged and died off, without as much sugar to feed it. I didn't follow the candida cleanse, but all of it together seemed to fix a lot of…

Kitchen Renovations... again

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After our big food prep day, we just couldn't bring ourselves to set everything back where it had been. SOMETHING needed to be done to get some more functional pantry space and get my huge, honking microwave off the counter!

I searched online for some microwave carts to replace one of our pantry shelving units, and didn't like what I saw. Baker's racks, however, might give us the depth I was searching for to get the microwave off the counter, and at a MUCH better price.

But sometimes you just get that feeling, and you know what you've got to do. Out the door on a whim to hit the thrift stores. There's one right nearby, but the furniture section is usually a little lackluster. We enjoy going over to a nicer side of town with two major thrift stores, and besides, I just had the feeling that we shouldn't stop nearby first.

We found something we thought we could jerry-rig to work, and went to the next one. Still nothing quite right, and we'd managed to talk our…

Food Prep Day

A friend and I concocted a scheme to do a bulk food-prep day. She's living in a 300 sq ft apartment with no real kitchen right now, and while she has access to the kitchen in the main house, it comes with strings attached. So, we thought we'd try having her join us for one of our food prep days, which we'd gotten out of the habit of doing anyway. It was fun!

The focus: Get some quick breakfasts into the freezer, and a lunch salad prepped in bulk. Maybe a little something extra for the freezer.

Our menu:

Balsamic lentil salad (made with kale to hold up to vinaigrette for a few days)Homemade Egg McMuffinsMini QuichesShredded chicken (for dumping on salads, quick lunches/dinners).  We did well! Mr. Moon dragged the microwave out of the kitchen for a little more counterspace, which will soon be available permanently when we build our microwave cart. After I did most of the paper-planning, we put him on knife duty, Friend on assembly duty, and I mostly directed & went to an …

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Not a huge change at all, but Mr. Moon got a second job today. Selling restaurant smallwares & appliances at a local restaurant supply store. One day a week for now, but in time there may be more shifts available. Of course, that one shift is Saturdays. Which means that after a hard night at work, and before a hard night at work, he gets to work an extra shift--the day before any potential double shifts at work. On the one hand, it's not yet impacting his days off, but on the other his workweek got a little busier. Nothing to do but redouble our efforts at weekly organization, meal planning & execution.

As it stands, whenever he's had to work early morning shifts on Sundays, we've tended to use it as an excuse to get takeout for dinner. But, at one shift a week of retail income, the extra money being made will barely pay for an increased expenditure of once-weekly take-out (let alone twice-weekly). Instead, it's time to get down to business with some recipes th…

Eat the Larder: 4 week update, & celebrating our progress

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We didn't make some kind of massive turn-around on the Eat the Larder challenge this week, but that's no surprise. I took some time to review what we have stores of that we need to be using, and reflect on why we aren't using it. Some of it is because I have a tendency to hoard food that goes way deeper than we'll ever get on this blog. Though I feel like I've touched on some of the reasoning before. Some of it though is because we stocked up on some things when we were working with a MUCH more expansive kitchen at Mr. Moon's parents' house, right before we moved away from it. And of course it's been a whirlwind since then that we're only pulling out of now to take some deep breaths and focus on shaping our lives going forward the way we want them. I'd like to be starting some more/better routines, so we are more practiced at them when the next whirlwind hits us, whatever that may be.

Though, on the topic of better routines, I must say that we, …

Menu: Apr 20-26, 3-week Update on Eat the Larder challenge

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What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Smoothies, eggs on toast, Turkey "benedict" (I don't like hollandaise on the turkey version, instead using garlic & mayo on the english muffin & adding a tomato slice, but this isn't some Pinterest renaming crap, it's just an aphasia slip-up that stuck).

Lunches: Turkey & roast beef wraps/sandwiches, leftovers.

Snacks: Really not doing great on these.

Dinners:
Monday: Tacos/Nachos! [using up leftovers]

Tuesday: Steak & Broccoli [beef, freezer cooking]

Wednesday: Shrimp (I don't know what kind of shrimp, we'll find out what we're in the mood for that day.) ETA, we ended up with a giant creole-shrimp caesar salad! Bottled dressing, but homemade croutons.

Thursday: Pita Pizza [freezer cooking]

Friday: Rice & beans [pantry cooking]

Saturday: Chili dogs

Sunday: Noodle bowl
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How are we doing on the Eat The Larder Challenge?

Let me tell you how not good we're doing. Epic fail. I mean, we did…

Organizing Dilemma: Beverages

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I like having a coffee & tea station. Everything in one place when we need it. That in mind, we also have a soda maker station, which doubles as cocktailing station, but also has the flavor syrups that go for both soda and coffee. And then of course there's the liquor cabinet... I'd better show you.

Here's our bar with soda maker and cocktailing supplies. The bottom shelf has soda & coffee syrups, and a rack of bitters (because my preferred beverage is plain soda water with a dash of bitters). So of course it makes sense to have those accessible. The middle shelf is canned soda, because I found a great deal and it's like a year's worth of soda--but at that drinking rate, I don't need them that accessible. So I want to put those elsewhere, and we'll get back to that. Top shelf is spare syrups, and that seahakws tin needs something in it so it's useful. It's also getting the flask collection, I just forgot to put that up before I took pictures…