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.