Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Ninety-One, Updating Day One-Hundred Thirty-Three (Three Studies Point to the Gut As A Place to Find Better Health)

During the summer of 2011, an on-line customer informed me she eats Spelt Right products because her diet change, which included replacing wheat with spelt, helped her reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.  She said that, on the recommendation of her endocrinologist, she removed white starchy flours from her diet and replaced them with ancient grains like spelt and quinoa.  As a result, she lost 30 pounds.

I have heard similar stories, but this piqued my curiosity. 

I started researching and found an interesting article in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science, entitled Adjuvant Diet to Improve Hormonal and Metabolic Factors Affecting Breast Cancer Prognosis.   This article contains some incredible information based on medical studies.

In a nutshell, it states what many of us already know, but hate to admit. Americans (and others adopting the "Western Diet") eat a lot of junk, don't exercise much, and are getting sick as a result.  The good news is that there are ways to turn this around. One way is to eat better, and one of the recommendations for better eating is to chose spelt and other heirloom grains over processed grains.

The abstract of this article states that “western lifestyle, characterized by reduced physical activity and a diet rich in fat, refined carbohydrates, and animal protein is associated with high prevalence of overweight, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and high plasma levels of several growth factors and sex hormones….[T]hese factors are associated with breast cancer risk and, in breast cancer patients, with increased risk of recurrences.  Recent trials have proven that such metabolic and endocrine imbalance can be favorably modified through comprehensive dietary modification, shifting from Western to Mediterranean and macrobiotic diet.”  (Emphasis added).

Among the other dietary recommendations, the article suggests that breast cancer patients should “reduce high glycemic index and high insulinemic index foods, such as refined flours, potatoes, white rice, corn flakes, sugar, and milk, using instead whole grain cereals (unrefined rice, barley, millet, oat, spelt, quinoa)."  

The human body's ability to "heal" itself  when fed the proper foods is the topic of a recent Harvard study published in Nature in December 2013.  The study indicates that the types of foods (plant based proteins vs. animal based proteins) influence the bacteria in the gut almost immediately, and that the human gut rapidly adapts to positive dietary change.

Similarly there are recent studies demonstrating that gut health is related not only to physical wellness, but also is connected to brain function.  A study conducted by CalTech published in
Cell in December 2013 demonstrates that there is a connection between the gut and the brain, suggesting that the use of probiotics may alleviate the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  "Traditional research has studied autism as a genetic disorder and a disorder of the brain, but our work shows that gut bacteria may contribute to ASD-like symptoms in ways that were previously unappreciated," says Prof. of Biology Sarkis Mazmanian. "Gut physiology appears to have effects on what are currently presumed to be brain functions."

All of these scientific studies support what my family has been unscientifically proving over the past eight years.  A balanced diet rich in whole foods (no additives or highly processed foods or grains) leads to a healthier, more productive life, with less "down time" and a stronger immune system.  The benefits of our "clean diet" lifestyle are most prominent with our son whose health and behavior have improved dramatically as a result of the change.

Americans have been in a state of amnesia, forgetting to listen to their bodies which have been the primary indicators since time immemorial of what is good and what is not.  We ignore the signs when we abuse our bodies with bad food choices and we are led down a false path that a simple pill will fix it.  We simply need to look to the past for our answers today. As the Ancient Greek Physician Hippocrates is oft quoted, "Let food be thy medicine; let medicine be thy food."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Ninety (On Learning to Slow Down and Relax with the Help of a Spelt Banana Muffin)


Here is a really moist, completely lovely, spelt banana bread that comes with clear instructions on how to make and how to eat. Certain of the instructions are mandatory, others offer some flexibility.

1) Make Muffins as set forth below.
2) Eat only when sitting at your nicely lit table (no eating on the run)
3) Enjoy with a glass of milk (cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond - your preference), or cup of coffee (or cup of chai)
4) with the newspaper open (sounds so antiquated),
5) No electronic media allowed near or on the table or in your hand
6) savor each bite, sip your drink, relax for a moment.

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup organic sugar
2TBL organic black strap molasses (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole grain VITA SPELT flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and then mix in mashed bananas and orange juice.   Mix well.  Bake in 12 muffin pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

OK, did it work?  Did you slow down for at least 20 minutes?  I hope the answer is yes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Days One-Hundred Eighty Two through One-Hundred Eighty Nine (Seven Days - On Eating)

Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding
In the Shadows Reflecting on the Week
In the shadows, we gain perspective. As we peer back and look forward, we see what worked, what didn’t, what we should change, and what we should keep just the same. Last week was a first for us, but perhaps, not the last. As Tim scaled the Great Wall in search of vast opportunities in the eastern frontier, I had to take on the daily drive from Upper Manhattan to Westchester and back again, throwing in a few Brooklyn and NJ detours along the way. Tim works where the kids go to school, so the drive is usually not on my agenda, and certainly not round-trip twice a day. The kids and I planned how to make seven days less stressful even though the days and nights required more organization from the tween and teen and more mileage from the quinquagenarian. We did seven days solo, and we did it well.
Homemade Home Fries
Spelt Right Bagels, CC, Bacon,
Homemade Pear Sauce, Homemade Custard

We planned it around food, around dinner and breakfasts, around go-to-bed times and early rise times, around planning ahead, packing your backpacks, having your phones, and not-losing it when you did not have your phones. We planned for mistakes, we made mistakes, but we got over them. We cooperated. We made messes. We cleaned them up. We did homework. We forgot homework. We laughed, sang, yelled, danced, and smiled.
The Dining "Room" Table -
 It's More Like the "Dining Corner"

Most transformative of all, though, was that for each of our meals - breakfast and dinner - we sat at our dining "room" table beautifully set and lit as if for guests, and ate our foods with appreciation of their inherent gifts rather than inhaling the foods as an afterthought on the way out the door. It became ritualistic to gather together to share these two meals, talk about the day to come, and the day that just finished. By being purposeful, we calmed our souls and set the tone ready to take on the challenges of each day. We started a new tradition, which we will incorporate into our daily routines. It worked, and we like it.

In all of this, I also made some new recipes, received feedback, and made them again, modified and better as result of the input from the peanut gallery.

So, we are not going to offer all of the recipes for the week (that would be totally insane), but we will tell you our menu, show you some photos, and give you a revised version of the recipe that started and ended this 7 day sojourn: Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding, but this time with less bread, smaller chunks of bread, and less sugar. Definitely, a better version within the shadows."

• Lunch and Dinner: two batches of moujadara (Lebanese lentil rice stew)
• Dessert: Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding

• Chicken Pot Pie (I made the inside; Spencer made the crust) YUM! and salad with homemade dressing
• Protein Bars for Olivia (made by Mom with love as a sure solution to curb the protein lows. Quick recipe: 3 cups all natural rice crisp cereal (I used Trader Joes), 1 cup unsweetened raw almond butter, 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill ground flax seed, 3/4 cup natural Tjs natural chocolate chips, 3/4 cups natural Tjs white chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients but chips together in large bowl. Melt chips in double boiler. When they are melted, mix in. Press the mixture into a buttered 9 inch pyrex pan. Cool in fridge. Cut in squares when done. Put in baggies for quick snacks for school.
• Homemade apple sauce (just peel, slice, de-core a bunch of old apples, add water as need, cook until mushy, add cinnamon to taste, organic sugar (optional), mash with a potato masher)

• Breakfast, homemade spelt banana muffins (made the night before), homemade apple sauce (made the night before) scrambled eggs
• Snack - protein bars (recipe above)
• Dinner: Shepherds pie (made the night before) and salad

• Breakfast - homemade custard (made Tuesday night)
• Dinner - the most amazing chicken and mushroom soup with onions, carrots and potatoes. In large sauce pan, sauté a finely chopped onion with pulverized garlic and 1 teas salt, add 4-5 chopped carrots, keep sautéing, add 2-3 chopped potatoes, keep sautéing, add 2-3 chicken breasts, sprinkle in tarragon, basil, salt and pepper, add frozen green beans if desired, cover all with filtered water. Cook until all is cooked. Take out cooked chicken, cut up chicken in small chunks and put back in. Add more flavor if desired (made Tuesday night)

• Breakfast: (spelt right bagels with cc and bacon!?!, homemade pear sauce (pear-ple sauce as named by O), homemade custard squares, side of bacon)
• Dinner: leftovers – lentils, chicken soup, hamburgers, and whatever else remained in the kitchen with homemade homefries.
• Time to go grocery shopping

• Green Bean Stew with tomatoes and chickpeas
• We all fell asleep after dinner, then Olivia woke grumpy and protein deprived (the green bean stew was not enough to help with a protein low). I made a quick meat and tomato sauce over noodles to help her out.

• Both kids out
• Beth dinner solo at local Italian Restaurant (It was a little over-the-top to have so much free time!!). No clean up, no planning, no nothing. Wow!

Sunday – start all over again (Tim arrived home safely from his eastern adventure, but still is on eastern time, so went right to bed after an early dinner. Just to prove that I love him as much as I love the kids, I made….)
• Spelt Right Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding –with less sugar (in the shadows)
• Chicken pot pie, non-traditionally made by being folded in Spelt Right triangles (pictures to come)
• Green Bean Stew – repurposed from Friday’s dinner with local ground beef, onions, eggplant, and olives sauteed in EVOO with the green beans. Very very good!
• A new batch of apple sauce
• Green leaf salad with endives, black olives, dill pickles, and tomatoes with homemade dressing with EVOO and balsamic vinegar
• AND, whole spelt white and dark chocolate chip cookies.

Monday- will see a repeat from all the leftovers from Sunday.

What are we going to do for Tuesday??

I believe I am obsessed….

Here is the revised recipe - a picture of which is in the shadows.

7 slices Spelt Right cinnamon raisin bread. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 – 400 until crisp (10 minutes each side). Let cool. Put in plastic bag, and crush with rolling pin Set aside.
2 TBL melted butter
4 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1/4 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (so much better than bleached white sugar!) (we halved the amount)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla
(we took out the raisins)

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8" glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Put bread in bowl, pour melted butter on bread.
In medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Eighty-Two (Spelt Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding)


The New York Marathon is in town!  Thousands of toned tonies have descended upon the City to show their super human endurance running 26 miles through this concrete jungle.  I totally admire and am slightly envious of these folks.  For god's sake, I am proud when I accomplish 2 miles!  Not that I would not want to be one of those Superhuman Toned Tonies, I'm just not.

To jog or to blog?  That is the question.

To blog, cook, bake, and clean.  Those are the answers.   That is my life - at least for this week while my spouse is world traveling and I am preparing to stave of the inevitable chaos of the coming school week.   The goal with baking and cooking on overdrive today is to make the mornings less grueling and the evenings less exhausting during my solo parenting week.

So far, I have made:
            Two batches of lentils with rice (mojadarah).  One has already been eaten.
            Cinnamon/Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding - already half eaten

My plan is also to make:
           Chicken Pot Pie (there are already rumors that it will be devoured in full tonight)
           Chicken Soup
           Stuffed Mini Eggplant
           Shepherds Pie
           Lubi - green bean stew

Perhaps too ambitious?  Maybe I should call this my own little marathon.  26 hours of cooking rather than 26 miles of running.

Here's the recipe for the Bread Pudding.  Definitely counterproductive to any two mile jog I have done, but  downright AWESOME according to two eleven year old critics.

Notice the beautiful organic sugar.
So much flavor and not that weird color white
Spelt Right Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Toasted to Crisp
Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding – adapted from All

9 slices Spelt Right cinnamon raisin bread.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 – 400 until crisp (10 minutes each side).  Let cool.  Break in to one inch squares.  Set aside.
2 TBL melted butter
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (so much better than bleached white sugar!)\
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
What the Goo Mix
Should Look Like When Ready
Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter over bread.  Sprinkle with raisins.
My Young Friend Ying Adding the Ingredients
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

According to my two eleven year old assistants, Olivia (photographer) and Ying (baker), the bread pudding was TOTALLY AWESOME!

 Photos by Olivia K, age 11

Totally Awesome
Cinnamon Raisin Spelt Bread Pudding
Pour Goo into Bread
Just Before Baking

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred-Eight One (French Toast with Spelt Right Cinnamon Bread, Slivered Almonds, and a Touch of Bourbon Vanilla)

I am almost half way to my original goal of 365 posts, but it already has taken me more than double the time to reach half of the entire goal.  But that is the subject of another post.

This post is simple.  A restful breakfast on a beautiful day in NYC.  No plans, no work, no rushing around.  Just making good food and feeding my family.  Kind of sweet.

RECIPE:  French Toast with Spelt Right Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Slivered Almonds, and a Touch of Bourbon Vanilla.


Spelt Right cinnamon raisin bread (this particular loaf had been in my freezer for months).  I used the whole loaf.
3 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
a teaspoon of Bourbon vanilla (yum!)
3 TBL organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 cup slivered almonds
(butter for the pan)


Mix together all ingredients (except bread and butter) in a glass dish with high enough sides (like a pyrex dish)

Soak individual bread slices, each side until soaked with the mixture.  Make sure the almonds stick.  In a stainless steel pan, melt butter to coat bottom of pan on medium heat.  When butter is hot, put slices of bread on pan.  Pan fry each side until golden brown.  Repeat until all bread is made into French Toast. Serve with real maple syrup and cut up fruit.

If you have left-overs, you can freezer in plastic baggies.  They are perfect not only for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast, but also for a quick before school breakfast treat.  Take out of freezer and pop in toaster oven.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles (Day One-Hundred Eighty)(Spelt Right Toast, Chevre, Pomegranates, Oh My!)

Well, I officially went the entire summer without a blog post.  Life sometimes is THAT busy.  Well, here is an easy and incredibly delicious appetizer for those of you who love good food but are busy, busy, busy.

Thanks to Olivia's burgeoning talent as a photographer and overall mega social networker, as well as a tough food critic, I have a great picture and an honest, critical review of this new recipe.  "Yumm"

Spelt Right toast with goat cheese, pomegranate molasses, and chopped walnuts.

Easy! Easy!

Toast up some Spelt Right bread.  Smear with your favorite chevre (either plain or herbed), top with chopped walnuts, and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Nine (Let Good Prevail Over Evil)

(Writer's Note:  This piece was written shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013)

Tell me it is not so.  I like to believe you don’t exist, that you are not so lost and disconnected from the beauty of life.  Please tell me that your choice is not to destroy it.

But, you show me otherwise.

You rattle my psyche.  You unnerve my children.  You bring terror in a backpack.  I like to think you do not exist.

But you are there.

And, you rattle, unnerve, terrorize, and destroy.

But we are here.   And, we calm, comfort, protect, and create.

You almost silenced me.  But, I won’t let you.  If I am silent, you have won. I am here to tell a story – simple as it is, of family, love, and food; of good over evil.  

There are stories of hope, of sharing, of simplicity that are wedged in between the episodes of tragedy.

And one day, a simple meal was created with love, by cousins lost and found.  Strangers the day before, now forever entwined by blood.  They worked together to recreate the flavors of those who preceded them.  And the spirits of their common great granddads and great grandmoms danced in the crowded kitchen whispering secrets from 100 years past when they landed on Ellis Island in the same City in search of a better life.

10, 10s have passed, and those great grandchildren have unknowingly returned to the same place to hear the stories, smell the scents, and taste the flavors that were brought here just for this moment.

And locked in time, cloistered from the noises from without, the stories unwind from within…..

“Kristen, did you know your granddad, my uncle, was a war hero, with his picture in Life Magazine?”

“And that your grandma, my aunt, was perhaps one of the best cooks on the planet?”

“Olivia and Spence, did you know your granddad, my dad, worked on airplanes during WWII…?”

“And that your grandma and granddad, my parents, had a big pool, where people paid to swim, and all the relatives visited, and laughed, and danced, and ate?”

“And all of you, did you know that your great great granddad was a slave to a sultan somewhere in the Middle East?  He was told he could win his freedom if he fought and killed a bear with his bare hands.   Do you think he won?”

“Are you here today because of the bear?”

“And, kids, please just keep chopping the onions, squeezing the lemons, and measuring the olive oil.”

We made quite a feast that night.  Enough to serve multiple generations.   We made fitayers with ground beef, fitayers with spinach, red-pepper pies, and tabouli (with quinoa – not something our ancestors would have recognized, but something we believe they would have appreciated.)

And here we share one of those recipes, Tabouli with Quinoa, that combines tastes and cultures from across the globe that weave in and out of generations.  Here is to good eating, and good people.

Recipe for Tabouli (with quinoa rather than cracked wheat)

2 bunches of fresh curly parsley – rinsed, destemmed, finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh spearmint – rinsed, destemmed, finely chopped
1 onion or 3/4 cup scallions finely chopped
2-3 red plump tasty tomatoes finely chopped
2 fresh lemons squeezed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup quinoa cooked and drained according to instructions (let cool)

Toss the parsley, spearmint, onions, and tomatoes together.  Add lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss.  Add cooled quinoa.  Gently toss.

ENJOY your favorite dishes, BROUGHT to you by your great grandparents, MADE by your parents (and first cousin once removed).   TOAST to family, food, love, and PRAY for GOOD over EVIL.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Eight (Forks Over Knives Gone Awry)

So, I came home zonked.  Really pooped.  Tired.  And, I still had emails to write.  The sales calls promoting my fantastic Spelt Right products were more exhausting than hauling 250 pounds of flour and lifting 500 pounds of dough.  Now it is my fingers and psyche getting the work out rather than my back and biceps.

With every call and email, I put on my armor and a smiley voice.  The method is working.  We are sending out samples and getting meetings.  Just got to keep up the energy.  So got to keep in the protein.  And, how am I to do this on our new found diet - plant based diet?

Enter the 15 year old.  "Spencer, can you figure out what to make for dinner without meat please?" Answer, "Umm, not really."  Shoot, I thought his intellect would have pulled me through on this one.  Thank goodness his cooperative nature is still intact so he agreed to help.  He just needed some direction.

I could pull it off without the meat.  But eliminating the egg, dairy and cheese was out of the question tonight.  Solution: potato, spinach, egg and cheese layered casserole.  Again, I had a "culinary vision".  This could work.  It would fill us up, and could be done in less than an hour.

I directed the kid with the basics.  He pulled off the rest on his own.  The dinner was stellar, but failed the "Forks Over Knives" test.  It did, however, pass "The Mom Is Really Exhausted and Thankful" test.


  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thin, cut with the precision of a mathematician. 
  • a bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed, spun, and de-stemmed
  • 3-4 eggs
  • some milk (let's guess at 1 cup)
  • 1and 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • salt, pepper and garlic to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying the potatoes


  • Put 1/8 cup of EVOO in frying pan.  Pan fry the potatoes until soft on the inside and a little crispy on the out (we did this in two pans to get the process moving)
  • Place layer of potatoes on 9-12 inch baking dish.  Layer with spinach.  Layer with potatoes.  Layer with spinach.  
  • Blend eggs, milk, 1 cup of grated cheese, salt, pepper, (and chopped garlic if desired)
  • Pour over layered potatoes and spinach.
  • Top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese.
  • Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in comes out dry and cheese is all bubbly and tempting on the top.

Enjoy, sit back, relax, and think not of anything but of eating good things.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy Seven (Forks Over Knives: Day Three, No Cheating)

Thanks to Netflix, we saw the documentary Forks over Knives.  It told us what we suspected.  Made us feel guilty for many foods we eat.  And, motivated us to make some dietary changes - at least until we can't stand them anymore or run out of ideas, or worse, get really grumpy.

So, the synopsis is this: meat is evil; red meat is the worst; animal based products are bad; give up your beloved cheese, eggs, and butter.  People who eat animal based diets have higher rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and all the horribles that haunt those who consume products made by or with fellow creatures that once breathed.

Man! That is a harsh pill to swallow.  What if we have just a little meat?  A little cheese?  Our beloved eggs in the morning and cream in our coffee?  What if we just cut out some, but not all those animal based products?

Apparently, the real deal is that we are supposed to go cold turkey.  Cold Turkey?  More like Cold Kale.

We were ready to introduce this change to our daily routine. Tim did the shopping.  I did the cooking.  Lots of green stuff, beans, rice, and veggies in our fridge and cupboards.  I cheated on Day One - eating my friend's baked chicken that he did not eat while visiting him as he was recuperating from surgery at the hospital.  How could I possibly admit to my family that, in my desperation, I ate chicken from hospital fare?   I cheated also on Day Two, even though I did make enough rice and beans the night before to last a week.

The rice and black beans were not finished until late night because I did not anticipate the 4 hours of cooking after the eight hours of soaking.   So, we had them for a late night snack, for breakfast the next day, and for dinner the following evening.  The family was being surprisingly cooperative at dinner facing beans and rice again, but were looking a bit forlorn.

Enter cheat number two.  More poultry.  We happened to have some chicken in the fridge so I sauteed it up with some olive oil, garlic, and wine.   Everyone was happy with the addition of the poultry because the steady diet of beans and rice was causing slight gastric distress in all of us.  Day two was a semi-success.

So tonight, day three, we all sighed at the thought of consuming anything that contained beans.  Yet, I was resolute not to cheat again.

As I looked at a beautiful bunch of dark green kale that Tim brought home like a bouquet of flowers (thanks honey, so beautiful!), I prayed for my culinary instinct to divine something to me.  My prayers worked.  All I needed was a little organic tofu, some nuts, and some tasty oils (probably against the diet...but, heck, I needed some tools).   Here it is. Forks Over Knives, Day Three - No Cheating.

Ingredients and Directions

Make a cup and half of rice, according to instructions - organic brown rice is recommended, but if you are pressed for time (as we were), use white rice.

One large bunch kale, de-stemmed, rinsed, and chopped and half chopped onion.  Saute onion and kale in frying pan with freshly minced garlic (crushed with a mortar and pestle), extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup), 2-4 TBL of organic toasted sesame seed oil, and salt to taste.   Saute until onions are soft and kale is limp.  Set aside.

Take one pound of organic extra firm tofu, and cut into equal size chunks.  Coat thoroughly with organic spelt.  Heat about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a separate stainless steel frying pan.  As soon as the oil is heated, add coated tofu.  Cook until brown on all sides.  Add about 2TBL of toasted sesame seed oil.  Add about 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts.   Add kale, onion mix, and toss together.

Serve over rice.   DELICIOUS.

We did it.  We accomplished Forks over Knives, Day Three...

As noted by Tim, "Served with red wine, thank god, that hasn't been eliminated..."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Six (Blizzard Blues: Spelt Blueberry Banana Muffins)

Blizzard Blues.

Experiencing a major blizzard in coastal Maine is a different experience than in the Big Apple. 

In Maine, Tim would have shoveled the drive and walkway, shoveled them again, shoveled them again, loaded wood in the woodstove, and we all would have hunkered down to stay snug in the house all day.  I probably would have baked something too. 

In NYC, we had no shoveling (except for digging a car out), have no woodstove, and had tickets to see Blue Man Group.  So, we hailed a cab, met some friends, and went to a very bizarre off-Broadway production.  A little loud for my taste.

But, the habits of Maine linger.  So before embarking on the Blue Man adventure, I felt compelled to make blueberry muffins– appropriate for a snowy blue-themed day.

Problem #1, there was no organic sugar in the house, and I was not about to use bleached white sugar, nor was I going to pay $7.99 for a pound and half of organic sugar at our local grocery store.
Spelt Blueberry Banana Muffins with Honey

Problem #2, we had very few blueberries, and as with the organic sugar, I was not going to pay triple for the convenience of buying them in our neighborhood.

Solution #1: create a recipe with honey
Solution #2: use blueberries in combination with some other fruit we have in the house: bananas!!

Here is a recipe for Blueberry-Banana Spelt Muffins – made especially to prevent stormy day blues, and to keep you from going bananas.

Blueberry-Banana Spelt Muffins – with no sugar
1 and 1/4 cups white spelt flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBL baking powder
1 cup buttermilk (made with 1 tbl fresh lemon juice and 1 cup milk, mixed and set aside for 10 minutes)
7 TBL honey
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup blueberries
1 and 1/2 ripe bananas

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In a larger bowl (I used the Kitchenaid), combine all the other ingredients, except the blueberries, and mix the dry into the liquid until blended.  Stir in the blueberries. 

Scoop enough batter to fill the muffin pans 3/4 way either lined with muffin papers or in well oiled muffin pans.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Five (Terrific Truffles-But Stop Already)

Stop Already!  The kids have been obsessed this holiday season with baking.  My girth does not appreciate it.

On Saturday evening we picked up Spencer at the airport after he returned from Duluth, MN.  He and his cousin Charlie served as human couriers each way to help Grandma travel safely between their homes in NYC and Duluth, MN.  It's an incredible right of passage to have these teenage boys become the guardian over their 87 year old grandmother as she travels to visit her kids and grandkids.

In less than a decade, the roles of child and grandma, have morphed into something neither the grandchildren nor the grandparent could have imagined.  Besides adoring these boys, Grandma used to bathe, babysit, read and sing to them.

Now, what seems as nothing more than in a blink of an eye, the little boys have transformed into young men, aware, caring, and capable of taking on the role as guardian to help Grandma safely maneuver her trips through the Big Blue Sky.  And Grandma has transformed from a fierce individual ready to take on any travel itinerary to a fragile sometimes disoriented woman in her prime, who understands love, but sometimes loses track of the daily flow. Despite some confusion as she bustles through busy LaGuardia, Grandma has a certain calmness knowing that there is a trusting young man by her side to help her along her journey.

On the ride home from the airport, I mentioned that I planned on doing some baking.  Spencer chimed in somewhat disappointed.  "Mom, you plan to use the kitchen?"  I answered, "Yes, why?"  "Umm, well, I was planning to make truffles.  It's in the cookbook from the Duluth Grill where Auntie Carol works.  She got me the cookbook."

Both Tim and I smiled, "Truffles?"   What I wanted to say was "Stop Already!"  All this decadent food is, well, too decadent.  But, what could I say?  "The kitchen is yours kid."  As Grandma trusts him to courier her through her travels, I trust him to take on another challenge in the kitchen.

It was a two day and very messy project.  But the outcome was nothing less than devilish.  Here is a lovely photo.  We can't provide the recipe here, but suggest you buy the Duluth Grill Cookbook for this recipe and many more from the award winning restaurant.

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Seventy-Five (Carrot Cupcakes for Argument Sake)

The Joy of Parenting brought to you by the The Joy of Baking website.

We have been admonishing our ten-year old for too much computer time.   She reminded us that if we did more activities with her in someway, she might not be on the computer as much.   She suggested that she might spend less time on the computer if she were allowed to have some independence baking like her bigger brother has.

We reminded her that she often argues so much that we end up not doing an activity.

She disagreed.

So, her dad suggested that they make bread pudding at the suggestion of her mom.  (Dad is infinitely more patient than Mom is).

And, the kid thought the baking was a good idea, but the bread pudding was a bad idea.

So, after extensive negotiations, her dad agreed to help her make carrot cupcakes.

Dad then suggested walnuts, and the kids reminded him that nuts are optional in the recipe.  She vetoed that option.

And so goes the conversation.

And we must say that the 10 year-old carrot cupcake advocate won her case.  The confections were absolutely delicious.

This recipe is adopted from The Joy of Baking website, but modified to use spelt instead of wheat, butter instead of oil, bourbon vanilla extract instead of regular vanilla extract, and organic evaporated cane juice instead of white sugar.

For argument sake, we think the modifications make a better cupcake.

Well said, counselor.

Carrot Cupcakes:

1 cup organic white spelt flour
1/3 cup organic whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup organic evaporated cane juice
2/3 cup butter softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract - (we used bourbon vanilla)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cups finely grated raw carrots 
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups  confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Carrot Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. In a medium cupcake pan,  line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Fold in the chopped walnuts (if desired.  Olivia chose not to use nuts).

In another large bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Then whisk in the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until slightly thickened. Fold in the applesauce and grated carrots. 

Then fold this mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated. Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter and bake 20 - 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:  In a separate beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add more confectioners sugar if needed. Pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Makes 12 cupcakes.